Monday, April 23, 2007

Size Zero and the Super Models

Latest edition of Scientific American focuses on fashion and the African perspective .

Just as Africa's youth find themselves choosing between Western music and clothes and those rooted in their own tradition, they are now faced with two opposing images of beauty -- the Western ideal of an ever thinner frame and the African one of a buxom and well-rounded figure.

Those who want to make it as a successful fashion model in the West ( and the rewards are appealing , Ghanaian models up to $200 a day. Those who make it to Europe get $1,360 per half day ) are well aware they need to conform to Western sizes. Skinny African girls may get to strut on Western catwalks but the fat ones have to stay at home.

"Those that come here who are skinny, they know they want to go international. The others, they know they are big, they want a job here in Ghana" said Exopa's Ibrahim.

Models on Western catwalks get thinner and thinner, their hungry look has sparked noisy debate about the pressure this places on girls and women to achieve perfection even if perfection means Size Zero, the smallest American dress size, the equivalent to a British size four.

In Africa, rolls of flesh are usually seen as a sign of wealth and status, not of ill health.
Few aspire to a skinny look, as those who look starved and ill too often are that way through misfortune, not choice.

Few Africans want to see a superskinny model, said Sylvia Owori, who runs Uganda's Ziper models,
"I think most Ugandans would be disgusted. They'd think she'd just come out of the village and she was malnourished"

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