January 11, 2014

PERSONALLY, I THINK THE WHOLE “BIKINI BRIDGE” HOAX was a brilliant bit of social-media pranksterism, and also a warning, to those who can absorb it, of how easily people can be manipulated by viral campaigns.

But the linked article is especially concerned that a campaign glorifying slender women will “do lasting damage by giving people with eating disorders a dangerous new goal to obsess over.” Well, possibly. But if you look at the pictures, these are not shriveled, emaciated anorexic types — they’re healthy, fit women. If they look anorexic to you, it’s probably because your sensibilities have been distorted by rampant obesity.

In truth, anorexia is quite rare, and there’s plenty of reason to doubt that it has anything much to do with the kind of images that appear in the media. Meanwhile, obesity is by far the most widespread “eating disorder” in our society, but for some reason nobody worries that, say, Lena Dunham’s nude scenes are encouraging more young women to become fat.

UPDATE: Related: It’s Come to This: Plus-Size Models Just Aren’t ‘Plus’ Enough for Some People.

Before we get to the latest lunacy, let’s ask an obvious question: Has anyone ever heard guys complain that the male models in GQ are “too rugged”? I mean, why must all male models be tall and muscular? Isn’t the male fashion industry’s insistence on using these mesomorphic freaks in their ads inflicting body-image issues on men? Why haven’t men started a protest campaign to insist on having more male models who are spindly geeks or chubby bald guys?

The very idea is absurd, of course, and yet the women who complain that fashion models are too thin have now begun complaining that plus-size models aren’t legitimately fat enough.

It’s a species of narcissism, disguised as compassion.