Jakarta fashion insiders say fat is the new thin

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The Jakarta Post – Thu., 10/04/2007 – Life

Crinolette Rose & Daniel Rose, Contributors, Jakarta

There is a big chance that by now you are already familiar with the song Big Girls (You Are Beautiful) by Mika. The video clip shows a group of women pouring into the streets, looking magnificent at size 16 and over. Wearing brightly colored lingerie, they show off their curves to an unsuspecting audience, who might just be thinking: What on earth are these women doing? Aren’t they ashamed of flaunting their flab?

Well, do we have news for you. Thin is out, darling, and it’s time to give way to a new definition of beauty. Forget those size-0 models competing in survival-of-the-thinnest matches. Because, as the wonderful Isaac Mizrahi put it—and made it official—fat is the new black.

Here are a couple of reasons why Queen Latifah is our new Kate Moss: First, the more obsessed you are about having a paper-thin body, the more easily you will be tempted to lose yourself. Imagine living on lettuce leaves and Diet Coke, feeling the need to avoid social events where food is present or being sick after every meal. Models Luisel Ramos and Ana Carolina Reston lived with such disorders for some time before their deaths in 2006, which served as a wakeup call to Milan, New York and the organizers of Madrid Fashion Week. They banned models with a body mass index of below 18 from their runway (18.5-25 is considered normal).

A good thing too, some of you might say. But the problem is bigger than that. Dragged to a higher, almost invisible level, this is about the patriarchal culture in which women and their bodies have always been discriminated against—the banning of skeletal models may as well be another example of how women who can never live up to the standards of physical perfection created by the fashion masterminds are in fact perpetually forced to do so. And with that comes our second reason: women really should not worry about impressing people with their beauty.

The belief that thin is ideal, an idea reproduced and underlined in, for example, fashion advertisements, tabloid articles, and any number of entertainment television programs, has made women feel uncomfortable about their own bodies.

Anorexia nervosa is statistically one of three disorders commonly found in women aged 15-24, and is one of the thousands of negative impacts of the “perfection standard”.

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Young Indonesian singer-songwriter Kartika Jahja has her own ideas on the matter. “The theory that a perfect body is the key to high self-esteem and a successful career comes not only from men, but also from women,” she said.

Having dived headfirst into the brutal showbiz industry, Tika has more than once been told she will never have the figure or the facial structure of Indonesian divas like Titi DJ or Krisdayanti—unless she goes under the plastic surgeon’s knife. But she could not care less. “My real intention working as a musician is to create, to express emotions through honest words, and definitely not to exploit my body,” she said.

Tika refuses to accept the narrow standards of beauty that are perpetuated continuously by the mass media and pop culture. “Those standards are in fact an assault on women. We should free ourselves from the pressure that we must constantly look good on the surface. Beauty should be returned to its truest sense”.

On the other hand, plus-sized comedian Okky Lukman reputedly likes to joke about her own body and chuckles when others verbally harass her for being fat on highly self-conscious TV comedy shows. “She should really just focus on her intellectuality,” Tika said.

Fat may be the new thin, but as obesity is still a world health problem, we may need to ask: How fat is fabulous?

All eyes are fixed on a billboard in Milan that shows a horrifically thin naked woman—particularly since the city’s mayor has ordered it be removed. Its message? No Anorexia. Apparently, this is all about being healthy and eating enough food. If losing your desire and need to eat is a disorder, losing control of how much you put in your mouth must be one too.

So if you think looking like Ally McBeal is hot, please accept the fact that the series was over in 2002 and that Calista Flockhart now looks lovely with her plump cheeks. If you think that by reading the title of this article you are allowed to eat three burgers and two bags of chips, please watch Fast Food Nation. And if you think the title of this article is unfair, do take your marker out and change the word “fat” for “curvalicious”.


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