St. Louis Fashion Week.
Written by Chloe Hall
As she undressed, I saw scars about an inch long covering the backside of her upper thigh. These scars were not accidental. She was probably a size zero, 5’10’’ and maybe 16 years old.
When I decided to accept a volunteer position for Saint Louis Fashion Week (STLFW), I had no idea what I was getting into. I’ve never been particularly interested in any sort of fashion beyond Goodwill, my high school prom or what vintage pieces I could dig up from my mom’s old stage clothes. This was a whole new and unexpected world for me.
I worked closely with two models the first night and four the second. I helped dress and undress them, making sure their clothes laid perfectly on their bodies — which with the exception of one male model, looked more like coat hangers.
Society puts so much emphasis on the overly-edited magazine covers and clothing advertisements, but what about the girls who don’t need a digital makeover?
The female models I worked with were some of the most upbeat girls I have ever met. They seemed to get such a high from being a part of STLFW. But when two girls fainted on the first day, a girl logged one banana and a bottle of water in her food diary and a model was refused because she was too thin to fit in a designer’s clothes, even after her agency told her she was not thin enough, I had to question the morality of everyone involved — including myself.
As I stood around at the after-party, I wondered if anyone else felt a slight tinge of guilt. There everyone was, dancing like it was just another Saturday night at the bar, and I was worrying about the girl who seemed oblivious to the 30-year-old male model who had been hitting on her. I was worrying about the 15-year-old whose father wouldn’t leave the backstage area because she had fainted earlier that day. I was worrying about the girl with scars all over her back, scars that were a result of problems she may never seek help for because doing so might result in a hiatus from her modeling career.
As I walked to my car that night, I realized that my admiration for the skill and talent of the designers was outweighed by the dehumanization of the young models. I don’t plan to make it my life mission to change the course of the high fashion industry, but I’ll do my small part by not volunteering at these kinds of events in the future.
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