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Using a Waif-Like Model to Promote a Weight Loss Shoot - Do Women's Magazines Understand Real Women?

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Karlie Kloss, the Victoria's Secret supermodel, is a stunning woman - there is no denying that.

But nude pictures of the model that has featured in a US Vogue shoot have taken our breath away - and not the good kind.

There is no doubt that the photos are meant to be artistic, but the topic of the shoot is to highlight an editorial piece about weight loss. The shoot was at an Austrian health spa, and Kloss is seen wearing electrodes and various about weight loss accoutrements, striking a pose, natch.

karliekloss

There are several things seriously wrong with this. First, is that Kloss is not the type of person that needs to lose weight, having once famously had her ribs airbrushed out in another nude shoot. For women who are seriously trying to lose weight, it's the equivalent of some skinny minny saying: "Oh yes, I eat pizza all the time" while we grit our teeth and head back to the treadmill, jogging towards some unreal expectation of what a woman's body should look like.

Second, and more serious, it's the matter of body image. US Vogue is not so naïve that they don't know how influential they are. Nor are they removed from the pack of fashion magazines that are responsible collectively for how women perceive themselves, and that they do place a whopping magnifying glass on the idea of beauty.

UK Vogue editor Alexandra Schulman has spoken of her attempts to try and get designers to produce larger sample sizes so that they could use, well, larger models. But as far as we can tell, save for the hat on her bonce, Kloss isn't wearing any clothes to speak of. In an instance where a larger model could have been used, unfettered by sample sizes, why wasn't it a consideration?

Fashion magazines can witter on until the cows come home that they aren't responsible for women starving themselves or hating the body they were given. But the fact is that models used today are around 23% thinner than the average woman - twenty years ago the difference was 8%.

The fact is that magazines are about standardized beauty and the reality is that there is no such thing as standardized beauty. We are not all 5ft 10, we don't all necessarily come from the same country and our bodies like to store fat in a lot of different places (mine is my belly, what about you?). The sooner we realise that the best goal is to be healthy and like how you look (rather than taping pictures of models to our fridge or pictures of ourselves from 10 years ago), the better.

The bottom line isn't just that Karlie Kloss has been used to highlight a weight loss-themed shoot (Oh, and great message to send to anorexia sufferers by the way) but that try and call this image arty all you will, it's just not a great image for women.

I understand that US Vogue is in a tough spot - if they used a slightly overweight model than no doubt the furore would be over what message they were trying to send to curvy women.

I'm all for the naked form (the female Olympic athletes looked gorgeous when they posed nude) but this picture does nothing for me. It doesn't inspire, and I don't want to know the story behind it. All I can think of is the poor, vulnerable woman who's sitting there thinking about how she can attain this virtually unattainable body.

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