Redefining Model Beauty by Helen May


With the recent New York Fashion Week, fashion models have appeared in the press. With that is always a discussion about their body shape: a fashion designer is thought to be great because they have introduced size limits for their models; another is thought to be brave because they have “oversized” models. And that is only catwalk models. I have started to read more about how much the fashion photos are airbrushed – they started as photographs of beautiful women and then any skin blemishes are airbrushed out, thighs are airbrushed thinner, cheekbones are airbrushed higher, lips are airbrushed fuller, … Even models no longer have the “perfect figure”.

It is easy to blame the media but perhaps we should look at ourselves and what we define as beautiful (even if this definition is based on what we see in the media). Maybe we should start to redefine beauty.

If it was up to me, a beautiful body would be based on a healthy body. This is not much of a redefinition really – if you treat your body well, do some exercise, eat fresh fruit and veg (and not too much sugar or salt), your eyes are brighter and your hair is silky.

I have this vision of a model selection similar to the TV series, The Voice. On the Voice, the idea is the singer is selected based on their voice only: the judges have their backs to the singer so they cannot be influenced by how the singer looks. In my model selection, the selectors do not look at the models but at their health statistics. Rather than height, bust, waist and age, what about BMI, cholesterol level, blood pressure?

One challenge with this form of model selection is that whilst you can calculate your BMI, it is much harder to measure your own cholesterol, kidney function or liver function. You may be able to see the effect through healthy looking skin but make up is pretty good nowadays and can hide a lot.

But there is one group of people who have had these measurements taken within the last year. At my annual diabetes review, a sample of blood and a sample of urine is taken, my weight is measured and my arm is pumped to calculate my blood pressure. So by the end of it, the doctor could tell you whether I am healthy.

Unfortunately, many people do not have these statistics available about themselves. But most people with diabetes have these checked every year at their annual review. So we are ideally placed to be the healthy models in a fashion show for diabetes. This has the benefit of also being able to show everyone how we can be fit and healthy and beautiful with diabetes.

What do you think? Can healthy people with diabetes help redefine what makes a beautiful model?

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