Model Behavior: A Fresh Look at Fashion Week

Our body image blogger shares some insightful observations

It’s humbling to have photographers sidle up to you, look you up and down and then move on. I know because that’s been my life for the past 48 hours, as I’ve roamed through Manhattan's Lincoln Center for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Although I suspect that, were I wearing a Lady Gaga-esque gown constructed of macaroni and fishing tackle, flashbulbs would be popping like crazy.

Fashion Week is an absolute alternate universe, where men don stilettos and  sequined bike shorts count as appropriate for a 50-something woman. Where neon yellow pants, white ankle socks and scarlet peep-toe heels mingle with fur headbands. Everyone feels they are far more fabulous than the next person. 

To a woman with an eating disordered past, however, Fashion Week is a whole other beast. As if there were any doubt, everyone milling about, gunning to be seen, is thin. The models in the shows, exceptionally so – you can count the ribs between their breasts as they sashay down the runway in plunging v-necks, and see the sinew of their muscles as they gallop past the front row celebs. (Hello: Fergie in the house!) I suspect Splenda and Adderall is the breakfast of champions here. 

During one show, every model had piercing blue eyes and long, straight blonde hair, and they all looked so sad. True, the designers have likely instructed them to not smile, but the joyless look seemed to go deeper. Maybe I’m biased as a body image blogger, but they all looked…hungry.

Speaking of food, at one point I purchased a bag of pretzels to soak up all the free pinot noir. I would estimate I was the only person in a room of 1000 who was actually eating food. My girlfriend, who also struggled with anorexia in her past, and I nibbled on our carbs sticks and people-watched as women in crystal-encrusted bra tops and platform shoes resembling cement blocks shot us the sort of dirty glances typically reserved for fur wearers at a PETA rally.

At 5’10”, I’m used to being the tallest woman in the room. Not so at Fashion Week, where one out of every three women is pushing six feet - and that’s not counting the five-inch python wedge platforms with life-sized birds affixed to the toes. Truth be told, it knocked me down a few rungs on the self-esteem ladder by making me feel rather invisible. Why would anyone look at me when they can fawn over Verushka the Swedish amazon with her 48-inch legs and a pierced “beauty mark” above her upper lip?

I know it seems as if I’m being hyperbolic, but Fashion Week truly is just as pompous and hollow as you would think. Model Land, NYC, is not a place for the faint of confidence: When everyone is so busy worrying about themselves, it takes a strong self esteem to know you can stand on your own two feet, regardless of whether they're clad in Louboutins or not.  If I had come here 10 years ago, when my self-esteem was still fragile and I based the bulk of my self worth on whether I got hit on or not, my college eating disorder would have been reignited faster than you can say, “protruding hip bones.” Instead, I had a blast gawking at some outrageous fashions, amped up my confidence levels with the new “skinny” Diet Pepsi, and delighted with schadenfreudian glee when the Christian Siriano model faceplanted mid-catwalk. 

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