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Lucy Van Pelt School of Football and Fashion Design | Manolo for the Big Girl

Lucy Van Pelt School of Football and Fashion Design

So I’ve been getting a lot of emails about Chloe Marshall, the size 16 model who will be competing for the title of Miss England and I’ve found it a bit tough to get het up about.

I mean it’s great and all, but in a way I felt making too big a deal about it is going “ZOMG! They threw us a bone!” and being like that girl who goes to prom with that jerky guy just because she was “lucky” to be asked.

So I bided my time thinking that once Francesca –who’s a Serious Journalist– was finished with her incredibly thorough cavalcade of crinoline she might say something, but then I saw this photo and had to speak up.

Chloe Marshall and the Bikini Ideal
Here we have Chloe, a very pretty girl who perhaps needs to work on her posing (neck! give me more neck!) at the Miss England bikini photocall. That’s great, cute girl, nice rack. Questionable shoes (the bands shorten the leg line to deleterious and enstumpening effect) and apparently the stylists in Surrey haven’t gotten the memo that no one wears The Rachel anymore, but other than that, fine. Nothing more to see here. Bartrendrix, another round, if you’d be so kind.

But hang on a second, check out those mannequins behind her. That’s a lot of clavicle. I suppose it’s good that they don’t have heads, I’m not sure their frames could support them.

I’m not a fan of blaming Big Bad Society on every ill that comes down the pike, but in a world where we’re getting bigger and the” ideal” keeps getting thinner, what are we saying when we have no problems with mannequins who look clearly malnourished but nearly wet ourselves either in self-congratulation or disgust when a plus-size girl competes in a beauty pageant?

It’s a weird world out there, gang.  Love your body, don’t turn ugly and don’t let the (headless) bastards get you down.

16 Responses to “Lucy Van Pelt School of Football and Fashion Design”

  1. Em April 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm #

    Thanks, this is my favorite post on this subject so far. But you forgot to mention the crime that is this unflattering, ill-fitting bikini she’s wearing. The top is bearable, but have you seen here in the bottom? Horrors.

    She’s forced to pose in it because it’s the official Miss England bikini, and it doesn’t seem to come in Chloe’s size. Ironic, huh?

  2. E April 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    It would be nice if you could make your point without putting down different body types, next time. I am quite revolted that you would call these mannequins unable to even support a head and clearly malnourished.

    Some people are naturally that skinny, yes. Naturally. As in, without starving themselves.

    Is it not hypocritical to deplore the lack of respect toward bigger women all the while ridiculing the smaller-boned, not always out of their teens, very slim ones? They are ‘real women’ too and worthy of respect.

  3. raincoaster April 8, 2008 at 9:16 pm #

    That’s a good point, E. I have a friend who used to be a top model and now that she’s not 120 lbs anymore she calls everyone under a size ten an undernourished moron. To be a “real woman” in her mind, you have to have some meat on your bones. It’s time we got past that kind of hostility as a society.

    That said, Plumcake is a blogger and we are, as a class, predisposed to go for the snark regardless of other factors. Its as harmless a joke as can be: you can’t really dehumanize a decapitated mannequin, can you? I mean, you should see what I said about cold, dead Charleton Heston (at least I waited till he couldn’t shoot me!).

  4. Bridey April 8, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    Well, I’m a very earnest type, too, but really, E, I think you’re taking it too much to heart.

    I believe Plumcake’s point was about the ever-shrinking societal ideal for women, as illustrated by the very visible clavicles on the manikins, which are not people and don’t have feelings. I’m sure there are many women with visible clavicles and even visible ribs who eat and exercise quite reasonably and are in fine health.

    But that level of thinness is not a state attainable by most women without extreme and potentially destructive measures, and it therefore seems peculiar for it to be presented as an ideal to which women in general should aspire.

    Though that does presume that a headless biscuit-colored manikin is intended to be — if I may throw around a bit of consulting jargon — aspirational. Not everybody buys that, of course.

  5. pelican April 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm #

    Huh, well, I hadn’t heard about her before. I think she’s terrific and she looks as good as anyone possibly could in that unattractive bikini. This kid is only sixteen, so I wouldn’t snark the shoes too much, either … they’re no worse than what I wore to many a prom.

    But, I don’t see in her story where a “bone” was thrown to her … she won, against seven other presumably skinny girls. I cannot imagine that this would happen in any beauty contest in the States.

    Good on you, Chloe- you’re articulate, happy with yourself, and you’ve landed the lucrative job you want- worthy goals for anyone.

  6. Cybill April 8, 2008 at 11:55 pm #

    You’re right, the over the top hooha surrounding the selection just ends up demeaning it. Is she really only 16, should 16 year olds be allowed to enter these things?

  7. Chaser April 9, 2008 at 1:53 am #

    I’m all for being nice to people whatever their size, but I think it’s bordering on hypersensitivity to take anybody to task for criticizing a set of mannequins. If those were fellow contestants, if those were women on the sidewalk, fine–by all means object. But given that they are constructed bodies–not an actual woman’s body– they are devoid of identity because they do not have faces– and thus I think they and they companies that use them are fair game for ridicule. These aren’t somebody mom, sister, or friend–they are a homogenized image of a female body. To be truthful, very thin women do not have such bodies either: the breasts are relatively large; the skin is perfect and (a source of irritation to yours truly) ALL WHITE. When mannequins start to reflect some measure of reality–like, say, one very thin one reflecting the naturally thin woman you are concerned about to three other mannequins of varying size and shape and color–I think we let up about the promulgation of “starvation chic.” But while all of them are stick thin and white…tough nuggets. They get the burn.

  8. Style Spy April 9, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    I think the “bone” being thrown is that one gal is getting some press and some treats, and chances are that this blip on the radar of western body image is unlikely to change anything in the big scheme of things. When YSL and Galliano and all the rest of ’em start making clothes that fit someone larger than a size 10, or when Big Girls win beauty contests without exciting a flurry of press coverage, that will be some progress made.

  9. La Petite Acadienne April 9, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    Either way, she’s gorgeous. And I love that even if her bikini is ill-fitting and even if her shoes weren’t the most flattering, she knows that she’s smokin’. Look at that cheeky grin — any girl of any size who has the confidence to wear a grin like that while being photographed in a bikini has my admiration.

  10. Margo April 9, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    It it just me, or does this picture look like it’s been tweaked? There’s something seriously weird about her head/body proportions, like someone Photoshopped a tiny head onto that curvy bod.

  11. dangster April 10, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    Yes, that picture does a bit Photoshopped. It’s like they took Rachel Bilson’s head and pasted it on that body.

  12. Jen April 11, 2008 at 2:52 am #

    I’m with E. This blog preaches body acceptance, as long as it is the particular body type to which this blog is dedicated. You can say “these are just mannequins”, but suppose the situation was reversed; the mannequins were large and someone called them “fat”. I doubt the ladies here would adopt the same “they’re just mannequins” attitude. You ladies are better than that!

  13. Lori C. April 11, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    The naturally thin women I know do not have bodies like those mannequins. Wait- I have to take that back- I know one naturally thin woman who actually has curves, and every other one I know laments what they themselves call their awkward legs with no calves and flat chests. To each her own, yes? But these are not actual women, they are in fact mannequins-very, very thin ones- and so I have to agree with Bridey & Chaser. And since this is a “Big” Girl Blog I expect, and would be disappointed not to find, a certain amount of snark.

  14. Steiff Bears July 16, 2008 at 1:43 am #

    stieff bear

  15. Dan September 30, 2008 at 11:45 pm #

    Look, the truth is that for a 16 year old girl she’s quite fat and clearly overfed. And she doesn’t look like she’s had much exercise other than lifting a fork. If she’s this fat at her age, she’s like to be obese by the time she’s 25. Not exactly a model for other young women to emulate.

  16. anonymous1 December 18, 2008 at 10:47 pm #

    i agree with dan. shes basically a young model who may have eaten too much cake on her sweet 16 party, and yet she tries to act motivational