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Possible solutions to some problems that this site is trying to solve
This page will sketch in brief some ways to solve the problems that have prompted this site's creation. In the process of solving some problems, this site will inadvertently be creating some problems, but it will take the necessary steps to minimize the negatives. For instance, honing the aesthetic judgment of the general population may worsen discrimination against unattractive women, but here is an outline of some steps that can be taken to take care of this problem. Promoting feminine beauty will also tend to undermine the self/body-esteem of women, but see this discussion of self-esteem.
The gay domination of the fashion business
The gay domination of the top ranks of the fashion business is at the core of the problems that this site is addressing. What can be done about this?
Top-ranked fashion designers, who are disproportionately homosexual men, cannot be persuaded to use feminine and normal-weight female models to show off their designs, and neither can they be forced to use such models via threat of boycott. After all, top-ranked fashion designers do not cater to the masses, but the elite, and the elite need clothing worthy of their status – at least to fit in high society if not for vanity or showing off one’s high status – and are unlikely to boycott top-ranked fashion designers because top-ranked fashion designers are top-ranked for good reason, which is obviously their ability to come up with the most aesthetically pleasing apparel. The assumption that gay fashion designers disproportionately have what it takes to be the best fashion designers is the most likely explanation of their domination of the fashion business. If one were to argue that this domination results from some kind of gay nepotism then the problem is to explain how gays came to be in a dominating position to start with, which is surely not a recent phenomenon, notwithstanding stigma against homosexuality.
The nature of fashion designing is such that it mostly attracts women, and given that differences in job preferences between men and women are similar to that between homosexuals and heterosexuals, one would expect that the men attracted toward fashion designing will be disproportionately homosexual. A high level of masculinization of some parts of the brain is also a correlate of sophisticated designing ability, and although some may find it difficult to believe, excess prenatal exposure to testosterone appears to be a major correlate of male homosexuality; see elaboration. Therefore, one would expect masculinized women and homosexual men to be relatively overrepresented among fashion designers, and gays to dominate the top ranks of fashion designers given the importance of a sophisticated designing ability to attaining such status.
Hence, the scenario is bleak for setting up a heterosexual alternative to the gay-dominated fashion business, though this task is not impossible. If one had 1) a lot of money, 2) drop-dead-gorgeous feminine and attractive women for modeling purposes, 3) heterosexual and decent fashion designers brave enough to be ostracized by the homosexuals in the mainstream fashion business as a result of their willingness to be part of a heterosexual alternative, and 4) more sophisticated fashion designing software, one could go about an advertising spree to build a brand name targeting upper class people and proceed from there. Building a brand name would be the key. People don’t drop a few grand on a Versace because of the quality of the fabric, its stitching or even its looks, but because it is a Versace.
Unless one runs into luck, i.e., a billionaire interested in promoting feminine beauty, generating the money to come up with a heterosexual alternative would be a difficult task, but it could be done. Suppose that this site or an equivalent site at some point in the future is attracting a huge number of hits; this site is certainly on its way. Then, a section could be added here profiling designing houses/online retailers that have committed themselves to only using feminine and attractive women for advertising purposes. Subsequently, a large number of people could easily be persuaded to buy at least clothing of limited importance in a social setting – e.g., socks, bras, underwear, lingerie – from these online retailers. The profits from volume sales would then provide the capital for a high-profile advertising campaign to set up brand names, and one would end up with a heterosexual alternative to the gay-dominated fashion industry. A feminine women alternative will pose its own problems, but these problems can be reduced as discussed in an article on setting up alternative fashion industries.
Getting the rich to stop patronizing high-profile fashion designers would basically be a waste of time. However, selling extremely expensive merchandize to very rich customers is more of a prestige issue than a profit-making venture for top fashion designers. Generally speaking, the bulk of profit comes from sales made to the majority, i.e., the lower priced items. Here is where boycotts can help, as explained by Jane Boon:
If you can’t buy a designer’s clothes, don’t buy their bags. It’s that simple.
Boon cites the example of Gucci, raking in billions, with only 12% of its revenue coming from clothing. Most clothes sold by Gucci and other better known designer labels are intentionally made in smaller sizes, and hence would not fit most women. If you like a design but it doesn't come in your size, don’t buy any of their products. Stop feeding the offenders.
The list of fashion designers that should be boycotted can be found at the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s website and its equivalent in London, Paris and Milan, altogether listing the more influential fashion designers. Note that these designers do not necessarily sell under their own name, i.e., find out who the designers are behind a brand name before making your purchases.
Legislative solutions to the negative influence of skinny and masculine fashion models
Legislative solutions are generally undesirable because there should be minimal involvement of the government in the choices people make. In 2006, following the starvation-related death of a fashion model, Spanish authorities banned models below a BMI of 18, and this prompted a predictable backlash from the fashion industry, but a few months later another fashion model died of starvation, and subsequently the Italian government put in effect laws, draconian no doubt from the perspective of gay fashion designers, banning ultra skinny models and girls less than 16, among others.
A ban on fashion models below an age-appropriate body mass index, unless there is medical proof of health, can be justified. Fashion insiders are known to say that many high-fashion models are naturally very skinny, and if this true, then a medical examination should confirm this. Therefore, such legislation can be seen as an attempt to prevent unnecessary and potentially dangerous suffering on the part of fashion models under pressure to maintain very skinny looks; it will not deny naturally very thin women an opportunity to model. On the other hand, legislation to force fashion designers to use feminine women is both unlikely and also undesirable in the sense that fashion designers should have the maximum freedom to select their models as long as they don’t endanger the health of their models and others.
Ideally, skinny and masculinized high-fashion models would occupy their own niche, i.e., fashion shows, and have little impact elsewhere, but this is difficult to realize in practice. The importance of being well-dressed requires no comment, and aesthetically pleasing clothing is desired by almost all people. Glamour models that pose naked have limited mainstream appeal – and thereby impact on women – because nude modeling is not acceptable in mainstream society, such models usually appear in men’s publications that women are generally not interested in, and some men, too, do not involve themselves much with men’s publications for a number of reasons, including religious reasons. Fitness models and female bodybuilders are unlikely to have as significant an impact on women as high-fashion models do because many people have no interest in exercising if not an aversion to it. Besides, some women who exercise do so primarily for improving on or maintaining their looks rather than primarily for health or fitness reasons or exercising for the sake of exercising, and if the major motive behind exercising on the part of some women is improving one’s looks, then a number of such women will be more influenced by the top-ranked female models in mainstream society, who mostly happen to be high-fashion models, than lower-ranked models such as fitness models. Additionally, a number of fitness models are too masculine in terms of muscle mass, and female bodybuilders are often more muscular than many men, i.e., fitness models and female bodybuilders are unlikely to have a major impact on women in general. Therefore, high-fashion models are in a much better position to have a significant impact on women compared to other models such as glamour models, fitness models or female bodybuilders.
Feminists and a number of eating disorder researchers have railed against the media/fashion industry for promoting underweight models, but what have they achieved? Hardly anything, but then what does one expect if they generally do not have a clue as to why high-fashion models are so skinny? To do something about this issue, the following educational measures are required:
- All interested parties need to understand that the typical skinniness of high-fashion models is part of a package that includes youth and masculinization, all of which make the central tendency of their looks lean toward those of adolescent boys, thanks to the gay domination of the fashion business.
- It is necessary to document literature that the looks of high-fashion models cannot be understood in terms of some kind of public demand or the possibility that their looks increase sales given that a) the public strongly and overwhelmingly prefers above average femininity in the looks of women and finds the typical skinniness of high-fashion models socially unacceptable, and also that b) the gay domination of the fashion business implies that they have a broad license to use the kind of models they want since in the absence of alternatives the public will surely buy necessary items such as clothing and fashionable wear regardless of what kind of women are near-universally used to model clothing.
- It is necessary to provide examples of women that most people, especially heterosexual men, find attractive – e.g., many of the women in the attractive women section – to reduce the odds of some women “internalizing” the skinny ideal promoted by the fashion industry. Educational attempts geared toward reducing the “internalization” of the skinny ideal and prompting healthful dietary practices are long-term failures because the crux of the issue is not addressed, namely that there are girls/young women out there looking for standards of perfection to emulate because they subscribe to the belief that if only they could be more perfect, their problems would go away, and the standard of perfection conveniently found on the part of women at risk for developing anorexia is the skinny look of high-fashion models. Convincing these women that perfect/ideal looks approach feminine beauty, as per the preferences of the vast majority of people, easily takes care of unhealthful practices such as unnecessary dieting or excessive exercise in order to achieve the “skinny ideal.” Pretending that beauty is a social construction achieves nothing; most people cannot be fooled into believing this.
It should be obvious that the three points above will not be part of a general education curriculum in school/college because of the politically incorrect involvement of the gay factor. A number of people will surely want to include feminist perspectives to inform educational measures designed to reduce the “internalization” of the “skinny ideal,” but feminist philosophy is poorly equipped to address a conflict between majority and minority interests, and when such conflict arises, minority interests will generally trump majority interests.
Therefore, what could be done about the “skinny ideal”? Note the third point above; the important issue is that some girls/women are convinced that perfection lies in the skinny looks of high-fashion models. Therefore, even in the absence of any knowledge of the gay factor, the promotion of feminine beauty, with an emphasis on high aesthetic standards, would offer a different standard of “perfection,” and one that cannot be achieved by negative health behaviors. For a strong impact factor, it would be necessary to emphasize high aesthetic standards. In other words, the promotion of feminine beauty, even if for solely aesthetic purposes, is consistent with undermining the “skinny ideal.” This brings us to the issue of how to promote feminine beauty.
Promoting feminine beauty and high aesthetic standards among models and beauty pageant contestants
Feminine beauty can be promoted in multiple ways:
- One could build a large database of feminine and attractive women, containing thousands of examples, and this database could be used as a reference standard . A rudimentary example is the attractive women section of this site, the quality of which is not high enough because at this time one has to mostly rely on nude models, but this will not be the case when at least one mainstream outlet for the promotion of feminine beauty is established.
- There is plenty of discussion on the subtlety of aesthetics within this site, which goes toward promoting high aesthetic standards among models and beauty pageant contestants.
- Addressing the looks of top models and beauty queens promoted as very attractive women, especially by contrasting them with real examples of feminine beauty, will greatly help undermine the high status of the “beauties” who don’t deserve their status; some examples below:
- Organizing beauty pageants focusing on feminine beauty; this issue has been addressed in some detail here.
- Heterosexual men in decision-making positions involving the selection of female models for advertising, adding glamour to various events, or accepting advertisements for various publications can insist on the use of attractive and feminine women unless a skinny and masculinized woman is specifically needed. Some heterosexual women in decision-making positions will likely help in this regard, but one cannot expect much cooperation from heterosexual women on this count because heterosexual women are generally jealous of attractive and feminine women, whom they are unlikely to promote, especially if they are feminists.
If models and beauty pageant contestants are to be selected in order to promote healthful practices, one would have to restrict their range of looks to the healthy range, i.e., both skinny and overweight models will have to be excluded. For instance, just consider some of the medical correlates of obesity. Obesity is a multifactorial disease; obesity and overweight are associated with other diseases and abnormalities such as hypertension; type-2 diabetes; coronary heart disease; stroke; gallbladder disease; osteoarthritis; sleep apnea; respiratory problems; reduced fecundity and fertility as well as increased likelihood of birth complications/giving birth to developmentally disturbed children; hirsutism; stress incontinence; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; gastroesophageal reflux; depression; multiple Myeloma; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, endometrium, breasts, ovary, cervix, prostate, colon and rectum.(1-4) In women, the most prominent condition associated with abdominal obesity is polycystic ovarian syndrome,(5) a combination of infertility, menstrual disturbances, hirsutism, abdominal obesity, hyperandrogenism and anovulation; this syndrome is strongly associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.(6)
On the other hand, the aesthetically pleasing range is a subset of the medically normal range, i.e., emphasizing high aesthetic standards does not serve the goal of health promotion.
Promotion of feminine beauty will unintentionally create problems of its own, but these can be minimized. Once again, read about reducing discrimination against unattractive women and body esteem problems.
- Froguel, P., Guy-Grand, B., and Clement, K., [Genetics of obesity: towards the understanding of a complex syndrome], Presse Med, 29, 564 (2000).
- Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: the evidence report, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, pp. 12 (June 1998).
- Halsted, C. H., Obesity: effects on the liver and gastrointestinal system, Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2, 425 (1999).
- Calle, E. E., Rodriguez, C., Walker-Thurmond, K., and Thun, M. J., Overweight, obesity, and mortality from cancer in a prospectively studied cohort of U.S. adults, N Engl J Med, 348, 1625 (2003).
- Dunaif, A., Polycystic ovary syndrome., Blackwell Scientific Publications, Boston (1992).
- Garbaciak, J. A., Jr., Richter, M., Miller, S., and Barton, J. J., Maternal weight and pregnancy complications, Am J Obstet Gynecol, 152, 238 (1985).
Art by Hajime Sorayama (top left).