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Old 02-07-2008, 05:54 PM   #1
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Somebody Shrunk The Men

If male models become increasingly thin will actors and other follow? Will the average man feel more pressure to be thin like some women do because of this trend? Do men really want to look like these models? Male models used to be muscular and heavier. Is the consumer really doing this and fashion is just responding?



Sascha Kooienga, left, and Artem Emelianov represent the current silhouette on the men’s wear runway


NY Times

February 7, 2008
Fashion Diary
The Vanishing Point
By GUY TREBAY

Credit Hedi Slimane or blame him. The type of men Mr. Slimane promoted when he first came aboard at Dior Homme some years back (he has since left) were thin to the point of resembling stick figures; the clothes he designed were correspondingly lean. The effects of his designs on the men’s wear industry were radical and surprisingly persuasive. Within a couple of seasons, the sleekness of Dior Homme suits made everyone else’s designs look boxy and passé, and so designers everywhere started reducing their silhouettes.

Then a funny thing happened. The models were also downsized. Where the masculine ideal of as recently as 2000 was a buff 6-footer with six-pack abs, the man of the moment is an urchin, a wraith or an underfed runt.

Nowhere was this more clear than at the recent men’s wear shows in Milan and Paris, where even those inured to the new look were flabbergasted at the sheer quantity of guys who looked chicken-chested, hollow-cheeked and undernourished. Not altogether surprisingly, the trend has followed the fashion pack back to New York

Wasn’t it just a short time ago that the industry was up in arms about skinny models? Little over a year ago, in Spain, designers were commanded to choose models based on a healthy body mass index; physicians were installed at Italian casting calls; Diane von Furstenberg, the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, called a conference to ventilate the issue of unhealthy body imagery and eating disorders among models.

The models in question were women, and it’s safe to say that they remain as waiflike as ever. But something occurred while no one was looking. Somebody shrunk the men.

“Skinny, skinny, skinny,” said Dave Fothergill, a director of the agency of the moment, Red Model Management. “Everybody’s shrinking themselves.”

This was abundantly clear in the castings of models for New York shows by Duckie Brown, Thom Browne, Patrik Ervell, Robert Geller and Marc by Marc Jacobs, where models like Stas Svetlichnyy of Russia typified the new norm. Mr. Svetlichnyy’s top weight, he said last week, is about 145 pounds. He is 6 feet tall with a 28-inch waist.

“Designers like the skinny guy,” he said backstage last Friday at the Duckie Brown show. “It looks good in the clothes and that’s the main thing. That’s just the way it is now.”

Even in Milan last month at shows like Dolce & Gabbana and Dsquared, where the castings traditionally ran to beefcake types, the models were leaner and less muscled, more light-bodied. Just as tellingly, Dolce & Gabbana’s look-book for spring 2008 (a catalog of the complete collection) featured not the male models the label has traditionally favored — industry stars like Chad White and Tyson Ballou, who have movie star looks and porn star physiques — but men who look as if they have never seen the inside of a gym.

“The look is different from when I started in the business eight years ago,” Mr. Ballou said last week during a photo shoot at the Milk Studios in lower Manhattan. In many of the model castings, which tend to be dominated by a handful of people, the body style that now dominates is the one Charles Atlas made a career out of trying to improve.

“The first thing I did when I moved to New York was immediately start going to the gym,” the designer John Bartlett said. That was in the long-ago 1980s. But the idea of bulking up now seems retro when musicians and taste arbiters like Devendra Banhart boast of having starved themselves in order to look good in clothes.

“The eye has changed,” Mr. Bartlett said. “Clothes now are tighter and tighter. Guys are younger and younger. Everyone is influenced by what Europe shows.”

What Europe (which is to say influential designers like Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons at Jil Sander) shows are men as tall as Tom Brady but who wear a size 38 suit.

“There are designers that lead the way,” said James Scully, a seasoned casting agent best known for the numerous modeling discoveries he made when he worked at Gucci under Tom Ford. “Everyone looks to Miuccia Prada for the standard the way they used to look at Hedi Slimane. Once the Hedi Slimanization got started, all anyone wanted to cast was the scrawny kid who looked like he got sand kicked in his face. The big, great looking models just stopped going to Europe. They knew they’d never get cast.”

For starters, they knew that they would never fit into designers’ samples. “When I started out in the magazine business in 1994, the sample size was an Italian 50,” said Long Nguyen of Flaunt magazine, referring to a size equivalent to a snug 40-regular.

“That was an appropriate size for a normal 6-foot male,” Mr. Nguyen said. Yet just six years later — coincidentally at about the time Mr. Slimane left his job as the men’s wear designer at YSL for Dior Homme — the typical sample size had dwindled to 48. Now it is 46.

“At that point you might as well save money and just go over to the boy’s department,” Mr. Nguyen said from his seat in the front row of the Benjamin Cho show, which was jammed as usual with a selection of reedy boys in Buffalo plaid jackets and stovepipe jeans, the same types that fill Brooklyn clubs like Sugarland. “I’m not really sure if designers are making clothes smaller or if people are smaller now,” Mr Nguyen said.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are taller and much heavier today than 40 years ago. The report, released in 2002, showed that the average height of adult American men has increased to 5-9 ½ in 2002 from just over 5-8 in 1960. The average weight of the same adult man had risen dramatically, to 191 pounds from 166.3.

Nowadays a model that weighed in at 191 pounds, no matter how handsome, would be turned away from most agencies or else sent to a fat farm.

Far from inspiring a spate of industry breast-beating, as occurred after the international news media got hold of the deaths of two young female models who died from eating disorders, the trend favoring very skinny male models has been accepted as a matter or course.

“I personally think that it’s the consumer that’s doing this, and fashion is just responding,” said Kelly Cutrone, the founder of People’s Revolution, a fashion branding and production company. “No one wants a beautiful women or a beautiful man anymore.”

In terms of image, the current preference is for beauty that is not fully evolved. “People are afraid to look over 21 or make any statement of what it means to be adult,” Ms. Cutrone said.

George Brown, a booking agent at Red Model Management, said: “When I get that random phone call from a boy who says, ‘I’m 6-foot-1 and I’m calling from Kansas,’ I immediately ask, ‘What do you weigh?’ If they say 188 or 190, I know we can’t use him. Our guys are 155 pounds at that height.”

Their waists, like that of Mr. Svetlichnyy, measure 28 or 30 inches. They have, ideally, long necks, pencil thighs, narrow shoulders and chests no more than 35.5 inches in circumference, Mr. Brown said. “It’s client driven,” he added. “That’s just the size that blue-chip designers and high-end editorials want.”

For Patrik Ervell’s show on Saturday, the casting brief called for new faces and men whose bodies were suited to a scarecrow silhouette. “We had to measure their thighs,” Mr. Brown said.

For models like Demián Tkach, a 26-year-old Argentine who was recently discovered by the photographer Bruce Weber, the tightening tape measure may cut off a career.

Mr. Tkach said that when he came here from Mexico, where he had been working: “My agency asked me to lose some muscle. I lost a little bit to help them, because I understand the designers are not looking for a male image anymore. They’re looking for some kind of androgyne.”
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:58 PM   #2
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i find something so creepy about those photos.

give me big muscles any day of the week.

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Old 02-07-2008, 05:58 PM   #3
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That is seriously, seriously unattractive.

Why would I want to be with someone who looks like an underfed boy? Maybe that's attractive to teenage girls, but yowza, at 28, no thanks, you better look like a man.
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:59 PM   #4
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That's so ridiculous to present ultra-thin bodies as the standard of beauty. Since when did looking anorexic and famished was considered sexy? I don't think the average guy would want to emulate the models. Guys want to look muscular because they know that is what most women like.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:02 PM   #5
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I was in the pool!!!






But seriously, yes men are just as susceptible to image pressures as women. Unfortunately I think there are more acceptable body types with the male gender then there are the female gender. An unfortunate double standard.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pearl
That's so ridiculous to present ultra-thin bodies as the standard of beauty. I don't think the average guy would do the same. I think guys want to look muscular because they know that is what most women like.
Definitely! While I feel that one we should all do our best to maintain a healthy weight for our age and body type through healthy eating and proper exercise, there is no excuse for the body type perpetuated by that dude on the right in that picture up there or the equivalent for those of us that are women. I don't want a guy I'm with to look like he just escaped from a concentration camp, nor do guys, from my experience, want women to have the body of a 9 year old boy. As a girl who was bordering on anorexia during my early teen years that realization actually aided in my struggle to be at a healthy weight through healthy practices as opposed to starving myself and working out for 2.5 hours a day like I was doing then. I did a research paper awhile back on the media and its effects on body image, and the negative impact it's now having on men as well as women was something I found surprising and increasingly common.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:10 PM   #7
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I'm sorry to hear about your experiences, U2isthebest

I also did hear about men being effected by media and body image. But I think they would feel more pressure to be muscular rather than 90 pounds.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pearl
I'm sorry to hear about your experiences, U2isthebest

I also did hear about men being effected by media and body image. But I think they would feel more pressure to be muscular rather than 90 pounds.
Thank you. I was never at the worst levels of an eating disorder, but I definitely got way too thin and went about it in the wrong ways. As for your second statement, my research showed exactly what you said. The media presents a muscular male body as ideal and a very thin, almost boyish, body as the ideal type for women.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:33 PM   #9
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It certainly shouldn't be promoted as something aspiring for young males, and those who are actively trying to look like that definitely are in need of help.
It's a shame if the media and model agencies are trying to portray this is as a new body standard.

However, it should be considered that in some cases, like myself, this is just how one looks. I would probably look similar to the one on the left.
Sure, I could go to the fitness studio every day to gain some muscles everywhere, but wouldn't I, in that way, not just fall victim to another perceived standard of how boys should look like?
Not that I wouldn't mind gaining some strength, I just have the time and motivation to actively enforce that. And I doubt that that would suddenly increase my chances with women dramatically.

My cousin, for example, would be similar to the right one, and it's really looking a bit strange, but he, like myself, is eating enough and well and also not suffering from anorexia.
Sometimes it's just in the genes, but when it's not it's time to act and help is needed.
But there's definitely the tendency in the media to portray anorexia as something admireable, and change is needed here first and foremost, which also could come about if the readers/viewers showed their disapproval in considerable amounts.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:39 PM   #10
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I hate to keep bringing up my paper because it makes me sound like an arrogant ass, but one of the things that I learned and focused on the most was the conflicting messages sent out by the media. We see stories of the dangers of anorexia and/or bulimia, compulsive exercise, etc, yet we're still constantly told how to get thin and stay there. One of the articles I read during my research gave the example of looking through any typical weekly magazine such as Us Weekly (which is my personal guilty pleasure) and within 10 pages there will an article about the dangerously low weights of certain celebrities and rumors of the dangerous methods they use to stay thin; followed by an article that talks about how to drop 10 pounds in a week like the celebrities do before an awards show, for example. It's ridiculous and its harming many people all across the board.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:52 PM   #11
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I have been shrunken
and
I have been inflated

and you do not want to see the pictures.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:58 PM   #12
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I'm with those that we should not be pushing this image of uber-skinniness on our society. However, like Vincent Vega I am naturally skinny, no matter how much I eat I won't gain or lose weight, and I probably wouldn't look appealing with my own boneyness

That being said, it worries me that society is pressuring both boys and girls to appear so skinny. I have too many friends with eating disorders, who say they want to be at my weight. I try to tell them that that would do SERIOUS damage to them, but logic doesn't break through.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i find something so creepy about those photos.

give me big muscles any day of the week.





Just like U2Dem, I've always been thin, and the only time I actually gained weight (noticeably) was when I was pregnant. Now I may fluctuate a few pounds here & there, but that could be due to a stomach condition.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:16 PM   #14
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So I guess there's sort of a resurgence of the 'heroin chic/elegantly wasted' look for male models at present?

From what I've read, though, most male anorexics aren't consciously aiming for that look, but rather muscle definition combined with great leanness--more on the order of what male runners or dancers look like than, e.g., Michael Phelps. (And in fact anorexia is more common in boys and men involved in those activities, just as it's also more common in girls and women involved in certain activities.) This is actually in turn related to why they tend to get diagnosed at more advanced stages of the disorder than girls and women do--because males produce more testosterone, they're able to maintain considerable muscle definition into a later stage of extreme body fat loss than most females can, and because most people tend to automatically associate being underweight with a 'wasted' look, it often just doesn't register until fairly far along that, whoa, when did our son/friend/boyfriend's neck and forearms suddenly start looking like pencils? As with girls and women, it often starts out as a 'healthy' enough attempt at getting trim (and, in men's case, 'buff') relative to one's body type, which gets out of hand as the expectations for what sort of 'ideal' should be aimed for become increasingly unrealistic.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i find something so creepy about those photos.

give me big muscles any day of the week.

I have nothing to add; I just wanted to see this picture again.
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