This Year's Model: Fashion, Media, and the Making of Glamour

By Elizabeth A. Wissinger | Go to book overview

4
Cover Girl
Managing the Model Body

In the mid 1990s, journalist Michael Gross’s observations echoed the popular sentiment that the supermodels were breaking new ground in modeling. He argues that they were so powerful, they

even remade the idea of perfection. No longer was it necessary to have a
belly like a washboard, or skin as white as snow. While [models] Irwin,
Patitz, and Mulder all are classic blondes, more than half the super-
models, including Turlington, had dark hair. Some even had dark skin.
Crawford has a mole near her lips; Campbell, a scar on her nose. Evange-
lista is scrawny; Schiffer is strapping.1

They may have broken the stranglehold blue-eyed blonds had had on the fashion industry, but with regard to body size, the supermodels did not stray very far from a very slender body ideal. Although somewhat more voluptuous than the flat-chested models popular in the 1970s, such as Cheryl Tiegs and Lisa Taylor, these models were by no means large. Christy Turlington, 5’0” and weighing 119 pounds at the peak of her career, had a twenty-three-inch waist, with breast and hips measuring only thirty-four inches. Cindy Crawford, famously known as a “cow” in the industry because of her curves, measured 34–26–35, a size very close to the model standard in the mid 1990s epitomized by Linda Evangelistas classic 34–24–34 shape. Naomi Campbell’s 5’9" muscular frame may look solid, but at 34–22–34, her proportions are much closer to those of the average fashion model, who is by most accounts 5’9"—6’ tall, weighing in at 110–118 pounds.2 Despite their reputation for being more womanly, the supermodels’ slender proportions were far from average.3

The supermodels’ billing as trendsetters moving fashion toward a new voluptuous silhouette came of efforts to differentiate their look

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