Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where Blame Is Due

Supermodel (What makes a model "super," anyway?) Kate Moss has come under fire again, this time for saying, during an online interview: "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

The gripe is a simple one - Young women with anorexia are latching onto the phrase as encouragement in their quests to waste away to nothing. This, being a bad thing, makes Moss' comment "irresponsible." According to one critic: "She's making unhealthy attitudes and behaviours seem somehow attractive. A lot of young girls see her as some kind of an icon so promoting these kinds of attitudes is really inappropriate. It really made me angry when I heard about it."

It's an understandable complaint, but it seems to miss the mark. First, Moss didn't coin the phrase. Secondly, it overemphasizes Moss' role as a role model. Moss is after all, a model - people pay her to play dress-up while they take her picture. People do this because other people will pay to see the pictures of Kate Moss playing dress-up. All in all, people pay a lot of money for this - after all, this is what has made Moss into a celebrity. The models one sees in your average Victoria's Secret catalog are commonly considered pretty attractive - but very few of them are household names, and you don't hear about their every word. If Moss' super-skinny look wasn't in such high demand, it's likely that she wouldn't be such an influence on young women. It doesn't seem to make sense to harp on Moss promoting herself, when she, at the end of the day, isn't the person who decides what's in, and what's not.

But this seems to be a common trend. Gabourey Sidibe has taken some media heat for being so obese. But there doesn't seem to be much criticism of Lee Daniels for not insisting that they cast a more healthy actress for the role, and zip her into a fat suit.

Moss and Sidibe didn't make themselves famous. Someone else did it for them. Maybe they're the ones that should be taking it on the chin over the allegedly harmful messages that Moss' and Sidibe's apparent lack of remorse for their bodies are sending. In making people with unhealthy bodies into celebrities, aren't they, and the everyday people who support their celebrity status, the ones who are making unhealthy attitudes and behaviors seem somehow attractive?

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