Models Direct: Are Women’s Magazines Still Getting Model Choices Wrong?

Models Direct ask – Should Vogue have used a naked image of super-slim Karlie Kloss to accompany a weight loss editorial?

Models Direct - Inspirational or alienating?
Models Direct – Inspirational or alienating?

Poorna Bell – lifestyle editor at the Huffington Post – criticised US Vogue yesterday for using a naked image of super-slim Karlie Kloss to accompany a weight loss editorial among its pages.

She suggests that Kloss’s tiny frame makes her an inappropriate model to be featured in association with the piece, and that her appearance is simply annoying for the intended target group of the article. The journalist describes the image as “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”.

Staff at Models Direct do wonder – since the feature is clearly aimed at those who are trying to lose weight – how will these readers relate to the imagery? By using a waif-like model, is US Vogue at risk of alienating the very people that it is supposedly addressing? Or will the image inspire women of a larger body type (practically everyone) to lose weight? Worst case scenario, could the image suggest that women of Kloss’s size need to lose weight themselves?

In her article Bell points out: “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%.

“…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.”

What do you think? Is Kloss the perfect poster girl for a piece about weight loss – since she embodies what seems to remain the modern ideal of what a woman should look like at her best – or was this an unwise move from the fashion brand?

Following the former Australian Vogue editor Kirstie Clements’ revelation that models are “eating tissues” in order to stay thin enough to be associated with the brand, it could certainly be deemed a risky editorial decision at best.