Is SA model too skinny?

2011-04-02 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL born Victoria’s Secret supermodel Candice Swanepoel’s skinny frame raised eyebrows at the launch of the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Swim collection in Hollywood this week.

Reporting on the launch at the Mondrian hotel in Los Angeles, the British Daily Mail tabloid wrote, “The supermodel has lost a significant amount of weight, she appeared slimmer around the jawline and she stood out with her bony legs and concave tummy.”

The paper said the company has been criticised from moving away from curvy models that made the brand famous to favour skinny girls to show off their lingerie.

When comparing Swanepoel’s pictures from the Victoria’s Secret January’s Valentine’s Day Collection this year to the swimwear launch on Wednesday, it is evident that she’s shed a lot of weight recently.

It has always been 22-year-old Swanepoel’s dream to become an international supermodel. She was discovered at the age of 15 at the Durban flea market and got signed with Ice Model Management, one of South Africa’s leading modelling agencies with offices in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

At age 16 she was already earning R40 000 a day.

Tiffany Prior, operations director at the Ice Model Management, said the media are blowing concern about her weight out of proportion.

“I cannot imagine that an international brand such as Victoria’s Secret would allow any model to represent their brand on an ongoing basis, if she was indeed too skinny or unhealthy. She’s the model that spends more time in front of the camera in lingerie and swimwear than most of the models, she knows what’s expected of her,” said Prior.

Swanepoel is the most popular model for the Victoria’s Secret brand, which has more than 900 stores in the United States and was the cover model for the 2011 swimwear catalogue.

Last year, another Victoria’s Secret model, 29-year-old Brazilian Alessandra Ambrosio, was also criticised for being too thin, while shooting bikinis.

Weekend Witness wanted to know whether the modelling industry pressures supermodels to be super skinny.

Prior said in her 20 years in the business, she has never weighed a model and in South Africa, the standard model measurements are bigger than those in Europe and the U.S.

“Young women and teens generally feel pressured. Unfortunately, in this day and age we mistakenly equate beauty and success with thinness. In my experience, the SA market tends to frown on models that are too skinny and we have a healthy outlook. I don’t like girls who are too skinny and emaciated, I find it unattractive,” Prior said.

“Swanepoel has never been weight obsessed, she’s always been very slim and toned, in fact was a ballet dancer when she was younger. She’s very health conscious and exercises regularly, even though her work schedule is manic,” she added.

People voiced their views on Skinny — a gossip blog that discusses celebrity weight topics. Commenter Hollywoodland said “Swanepoel has lost a lot of weight. She’s really pretty with amazing body, but now looks too thin.”

Erk added, “She almost looks fake”. Lmd said, “She needs to eat a couple cheeseburgers” and Becky said she thought Victoria’s Secret models were meant to be slim and curvy.

Renowned fashion designer, David Tlale said, he thinks being skinny is “super hot”. “Models need to be skinny because they have to sell the garment, it is no pressure but part of their job description and weight is the number one thing that designers look at,” added Tlale.

Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died of anorexia in 2007. In 2008, Spain made headlines after three models were banned from the Madrid fashion week for being too skinny.

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