Photo courtesy of Ryerson University
In her first lecture in Canada, Caryn encouraged fashion students to think about the unattainable standards of beauty seen in mainstream fashion imagery that perpetuate the standard of the tall, thin, young and white ideal. She noted that fashion imagery has "begun to normalize something that is not normal" in promoting and perpetuating "image of unachievable beauty", and quoted statistics about body image and self esteem to show the level of "unease and destabilization that the fashion industry creates." She said "we have all internalized a body dysmorphia" and asked "isn't it time to make changes?"
|Caryn Franklin at Ryerson University|
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2012
By asking questions about design practices, including the drawings that begin on an impossible template of an elongated body, Caryn encouraged students to think for themselves and to see diversity as a "means of creating a viable commercial brief". After the lecture, students created preliminary proposals for a design, film, blog, article or other creative effort and presented their ideas to their peers. As a moderator for one of these groups, I felt privileged to help nurture their ideas, because I feel this is a message that is long overdue in the fashion industry. Although I am slender, I am not tall. And while I am not old, I am old enough to know what looks good on me. And too often, I cannot find what I want. I don't want to look like I'm trying to be 18, even though I am still the same size as when I was 18. I don't see any models that look like me in magazines. I see airbrushed and Botoxed simulacra of what mature beauty is supposed to be and I can only hope that one day it will be true that "every body counts".
For more information about All Walks and the Diversity Now! competition for fashion students in the UK, visit www.allwalks.org.
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