#Opinion: Skinny female models: How necessary in Nigeria?

#Opinion: Skinny female models: How necessary in Nigeria?

Iyene Etim

Only recently, Wilhelmina, Model 1, Storm and Victoria Beckham amongst others, all fashion outfits based in the UK have had their feathers ruffled by some folks who are against the use of underage and extremely thin girls as models in the Fashion industry.

This group call themselves, the Parliamentary group on body image and advocates that modelling agencies and Fashion big shots should not encourage models to become excessively skinny as it poses a danger to their health.

The runways have always been partial to the plus sized individuals and even a few designers who have decided to focus on thick women have only grazed the problem. A research by mamamia.com.au attempts to explain why, “Extreme thinness makes one into a literal clothes hanger and when done right neutralizes the distractions of the female body.” It explains further. “Curves, breasts, the heft of the thigh can drag people’s attention from the dress to the person”
It adds “when the wearer is so tiny, they literally cease to exist, and the garment becomes the dominant story. The reason women who are especially celebrated as stylish rather than sexy tend to be extremely slender is because their bodies are less ‘distracting’, so their clothes can shine.”
“And again, a dress doesn’t have to be especially well cut or well-made or well designed to look ‘right’ on a very thin girl, as a designer, in order to flatter a more realistic shape, you have to have something very special and very specific: talent.”

Due to our “copy copy” attitude in Africa, models are made to get into a particular shape and size – the perfect size 10 or even less. The real challenge however is that an average African woman is big, curvy, fleshy and not a “bonework”. As a matter of fact, a slim person is often pressured to add weight as much as the Latinos are pressured to be curvy and the Americans, skinny.Which makes me wonder, if more than 50 percent of the potential Nigerian consumers are big (at least with some chunks of flesh on them), why do we have skinny models all over the place?

Apart from the fact that these preferences over the years have gone ahead to make women who are not particluarly slim feel out of place, many big girls can not dare to dream to be a model.

Is a “thick” model bad for business?
Is skinny the new fit?

Adunni Taiwo, a Beauty Consultant in the UK gives an interesting opinion, “What people see as sexy is culture and region determined … In the Kayan tribe in Myanmar, all a woman needs is her “long neck” and she’ll be deemed sexy and very beautiful. She emphasises it by wearing rings upon  rings of brass around her neck to further showcase her God given beauty.

Now tell me, in this kind of society, what sort of women would be employed to model attires?

(My guess was Ostriches)

“Of course yes!” He resumes. “In Nigeria we should have  more models who show people what they will look like when they wear the oufit not who they hope to be but when have we been known to settle for our own originality, products made in Aba by our Igbo brothers for instance?

“When did we start appointing local managers to manage our national teams?

“Innoson is now building vehicles in Nnewi, how much patronage is he getting from our local people?

“Even the mannequins we use in Nigeria are “Oyinbos”

“We are hung on anything foreign and that that’s a fact. So no surprises in the penchant to model with size zero girls, we even fake ‘oyinbo’ accent sometimes…”

He adds, “If we weren’t that far gone we would do what common sense dictates, have models that truly represent who the average Nigerian woman is, “THICK”

“But then this is a  country where with the likes of Soludo, Adewunmi Adesina, Donald Duke etc yet the tussle is always between the likes of Jonathan and Buhari, we don’t do common sense” Taiwo concludes.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Happenings Media