Kirstie Clements, a former Vogue editor, has written an horrific column for the Guardian detailing the physical privation experienced by the size-zero models used by couture designers. She tells of models who were so weak from starvation that they literally couldn't stand for an entire photo-shoot, so that some of final photos had to be contrived with the models lying down. She writes about a model's roommate who was mostly on her own, because her "flatmate is a 'fit model', so she's in hospital on a drip a lot of the time." That is, her roommate, a reference model for designers, was so starved that she was frequently hospitalized.
On another shoot I was chatting to one of the top Australian models during lunch. She had just moved to Paris and was sharing a small apartment with another model. I asked her how that was working out. "I get a lot of time by myself actually," she said, picking at her salad. "My flatmate is a 'fit model', so she's in hospital on a drip a lot of the time." A fit model is one who is used in the top designer ateliers, or workrooms, and is the body around which the clothes are designed. That the ideal body shape used as a starting point for a collection should be a female on the brink of hospitalisation from starvation is frightening.
The longer I worked with models, the more the food deprivation became obvious. Cigarettes and Diet Coke were dietary staples. Sometimes you would see the tell-tale signs of anorexia, where a girl develops a light fuzz on her face and arms as her body struggles to stay warm. I have never, in all my career, heard a model say "I'm hot", not even if you wrapped her in fur and put her in the middle of the desert.
Former Vogue editor: The truth about size zero [Kirstie Clements/The Guardian]
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I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.