Ezgi Baylar. Credit: Bu Tarz Benim
Zero size models have been on stage everywhere for some time now, regardless of where in the world, or whichever medium fashion is featured in. Turkey is a country between Europe and the Middle East and a great deal of Western style fashion can be viewed there. A very popular fashion TV show in Turkey, named “Bu Tarz Benim” (This Is My Style), is another medium to see the praises on thin female body. You can see no plus-size women in the show, all the women chosen to put their style on display are between sizes 0 to 6. Furthermore, there is a contestant who has an eating disorder, and despite that, she was chosen to compete in the show.
Even though the jury as well as the other contestants say that this is unhealthy whenever the anorexia is mentioned, most of the time she is regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the show, and is complimented for that the dresses look just right on her. She is often told to have a perfect body, and she is sometimes told to gain 3-4 kilos but not more.
Can you see the problem there? Why should weight be a criticism point for a fashion show? Along with that, some other women in the show, wearing pencil skirts or any kind of fitting clothing face the some comments such as “This doesn’t fit you well, you should be thinner to wear such a piece”. This comment alone shows how the female body and clothing are perceived in Turkish society.
The obsession with thinness is not seen only in the TV shows. If you live in Turkey and feel free to wear whatever you choose, you will face criticism. The women wearing Islamic hijab criticize women who wear hijab in a fashionable way, and these women criticize some other for wearing miniskirts, which in turn criticize the hijab-wearers. Thin and tall ones criticize the plus-size women for wearing shorts and skirts that show their “fat skin and cellulite”, and the plus-size ones criticize them back for being fake and attention seeking. However, the only thing you can’t really get criticized about is thinness. If you are thin and tall, you are beautiful. Full stop.
Is this how it really should be? Should a TV show also support this? No matter what the ideal is, apparently this is how it works. If your thighs are large, you should not wear those pair of shorts or you will get criticized publicly. People, mostly other women, will laugh at you. They will call you names, such as “fat”, “attention seeker”, or “too revealing”. This creates a society in which fashion can’t be expressed freely, one always feels like they should check what they wear in order to be “normal” and acceptable. However, if someone is too normal, they are called boring.
In the mentioned TV show, women can be criticized for wearing too mainstream, too standard outfits, as well as too out-of-the-box, too unconventional pieces. In the show as well as society, a woman is constantly put in her place, which is where she should be thin, she should be just over the norm but should not especially stand out. Because the norm keeps changing with the fluidity of fashion, “Fashions fade, style is eternal” as put by Yves Saint Laurent, being thin is the only constant on which young women are taught to base their lives on. It is widely seen on social media; one young woman tweeted “I feel down every time I watch the girls on Bu Tarz Benim. I should lose weight,” and another tweeted about the anorexic contestant that “You are the most beautiful of all, my older sister” and “Everything of you is just perfect”.
As Bu Tarz Benim is a TV show, everything fashion and style related can be criticized, it is normal. Yet again, the constant teaching of being skinny is quite problematic. The contestant with anorexia nervosa and bulimia being constantly appraised for her body teaches wrongly. Young women and even girls watching this kind of shows are widely affected and are always in check of their weight, as if it is the most important thing in a woman’s life is the size of their clothing, or their flat stomach. They feel that they can learn the changing art of fashion, but the prerequisite of this is a size 0 to 2 body is what they need to accomplish to start with. This leads to young girls ceasing to eat carbohydrates and even smoking to suppress their appetite, which is unacceptable for girls at such age as they need to assist their growth with a healthy diet. They are taught to be unhealthy rather than facing being named as “fat”, in the name of fashion and acceptance. This should not be your style, as size is certainly not a prerequisite for good style.