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“Paris Measurements”: The Inertia of the Thin Ideal on the Runways of Paris Fashion Week
University of Borås, Faculty of Textiles, Engineering and Business.
University of Borås, Faculty of Textiles, Engineering and Business.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background - Welcome to the 2010’s and its visual information culture informing about the century-old ideal of thinness, by sending (almost) exclusively thin bodies down the runway of Paris Fashion Week (PFW). This, while at the same time the academia and mass media are repeatedly articulating the necessity of a more ethical aesthetic within the fashion industry, while the argument that “thinness sells” lack empirical support, while measures are taken around Europe to discourage media bias and encourage healthy bodies walking the, and while the body positivity movement – applauding the diversity of body types – is on the rise in the Western society.

Problem - How can it be explained that PFW, as an event organized to communicate the latest trends, and as an institution of a concept that thrives on change, is being stuck in an inertia of thin models? The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the explanations for the idealization of thin bodies in regard to female runway models, to be found in visual representations of PFW. Examining the paradox of the idealization of thin bodies has the potential to reveal the measures necessary to establish practices of ethical representation in the realm of PFW.

Method - The search for explanations to the inertia of the thin ideal on the runways of PFW is based upon a qualitative research design and a method of semi-structured interviews. The sample consisted of fourteen people involved in the event of PFW. It is framed within three theoretical perspectives: the trickle-down, trickle-across and trickle-up theories – associated with authors such as Simmel (1957), King (1963) and Blumer (1969a; 1969b); a theoretical view of the relation between fashion, clothes and the body provided by Barnard (2014) and, lastly, the Organizational Ecology Theory presented by Hannan and Freeman (1977; 1989).

Findings - The findings suggest that the inertia of the thin ideal on the runways of PFW is explained by the thin body not only being part of a long history and tradition of creating and showing fashion, but also being dressed in aesthetic value. At the same time, the explanations to the idealization, or inertia, of thin bodies on PFW are found to be multiple as well as paradoxical, a conclusion serving as an explanation in itself.

Conclusion – It is difficult to point out the explanation to the inertia of the thin ideal – both in terms of factors and actors – not at least due to the explanations stemming from both social and cultural as well as economic aspects of fashion. As a consequence, every actor part the fashion industry need to understand the effects as well as the extent of idealization of thin bodies, and start to realize that public health is more important than profits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Thin Ideal, Visual Representation, Idealization, Organizational Ecology, Inertia, Aesthetics, Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-22001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-22001DiVA, id: diva2:1369654
Subject / course
Textile management
Available from: 2019-11-13 Created: 2019-11-12 Last updated: 2019-11-13Bibliographically approved

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