In case you didn’t know by now, FKA twigs is an artist who does things her own way. That’s certainly the case with her latest audio-visual epic, M3LL155X (pronounced “Melissa”), an expression of her “personal female energy.” Entirely self-directed, the aesthetics are what initially stand out. Fashion muse Michèle Lamy is the first face we see, wearing her go-to heavy jewels, tattooed and dyed fingertips, gold teeth, and even a fluorescent lightbulb on her head. Lamy’s stunning cameo is subsequently followed by twigs as an inflatable sex doll, a solid amount of pregnancy, some hardcore vogueing, and of course, lots of killer fashion. And while viewers would certainly raise an eyebrow at just about all of the visuals in the short film, we should ask ourselves, what does it all mean?
Haven’t people learned the difference between stating an opinion and making crude, offensive remarks?
While I’d usually like to maintain at least a shred of objectivity, I can’t help but respond to this type of aggravated ignorance with a little bit of a negative attitude.
The New York Times’ fashion magazine, Trecently featured Julia Nobis on their cover and in an accompanying editorial, shot by Craig McDean. The spread isn’t bad, but it’s not necessarily one of the most provocative pictorials I’ve ever seen. However, Cenk Uygur apparently finds the simplistic studio images of Nobis so disturbing that he felt the need to fervently respond with scathing commentary. Although The Young Turkshost claims he wasn’t trying to attack Julia personally, he repeatedly called the model “disgusting” and assumed she’s “obviously anorexic” in the midst of a body-shaming, implicitly misogynistic rant.
“As a red-blooded American man, I’m here to tell you it’s not attractive, it’s disgusting,” Uygur says in regards to the thin-ideal image portrayed by the fashion industry.
Let’s be real, high fashion doesn’t typically appeal to the “red-blooded American man,” and the confusion that comes with being completely uninformed seems to cause this particular man to be nothing less than infuriated. Sorry, but the purpose of fashion isn’t to sexually arouse. If that’s what you want, look at porn instead of trying to objectify women in the fashion business.
Cenk Uygur is clearly not involved in fashion, as he angrily mocks and criticizes the industry in both the first segment and the following (which replies to the negative backlash of his initial statements). So why does he find it acceptable to lecture on a topic he knows nothing about? His reports are embellished with misconstrued information about fashion week and the modeling industry, nullifying his status as a credible source. I’ve seen people make asinine assumptions on things they didn’t know about, but Cenk takes the cake (obviously). Extremely unqualified, Mr. Uygur definitely has balls to take on an industry noted for its no-bullshit frame of mind, especially in his attempt to preach what types of bodies are “desirable.” I’m not quite getting how he justifies his mean-spirited comments on thin models and the fashion industry; he doesn’t exactly have a model’s physique, so I’m sure he knows it’s equally impolite to call someone fat.
But this isn’t just about retaliating and insulting Cenk Uygur for implying that people in the fashion industry are stupid and psychotic (though I was definitely heated about those comments). The real issue here is how people think it’s perfectly okay to put someone to shame for their body type, whether they are fat or skinny.
To be blunt, the fashion industry’s intention is not to make people feel good about themselves, but to sell products. Of course there are plenty of models who are dangerously more underweight than Julia Nobis, going to unhealthy extremes to achieve their figures; we’ve known about this for what feels like eternity, and the super-skinny standard has definitely impacted plenty of people’s body image. But the ideal body type in fashion should be adapted for models’ safety, not to appeal to someone’s closed-minded vision of beauty. I definitely think it would be best for the fashion industry to be more accepting of a variety of shapes and sizes, just like I think there needs to be more inclusion with race. But I also don’t think anyone should shame another for their weight, especially when they’re severely uninformed about who or what they choose to critique.
It’s difficult to completely assess the issue, and this could go into an even larger discussion. Though slightly off-topic, the fashion industry is like a sibling to me; I’ll be the first insult it and point out its flaws, but I’ll also be the first to rush to its defense. Let Cenk Uygur serve as an example of how truly foolish someone looks when making ignorant verbal assaults, and let’s hope people both in fashion and in the mainstream will eventually stop shaming others’ bodies.
Take a look at some more photos from Julia Nobis’ spread in T and share your thoughts on the topic!