That night they were having a lecture titled, "Fashion, individualism, and the body mass index." These were the guest speakers for the night:
Michelle Bobb-Parris (Blogger and Fashion Consultant)
Eve Kalinik (Nutritionist)
Chi Chi Menendez (Creative Director Le Baron)
Kathryn Ferguson (Film Maker)
To be honest I was super excited. Another lecture at the V&A, though this one, in my opinion, was guaranteed to be more interesting than the last one I'd attended (which was about what happened to design in recessions).
I'd already signed up for the lecture before Sweden had planned to come and after she'd made her arrangements, asked if she was interested. After she said yes I pulled the appropriate strings and also got her on the guest list. When you travel with me, you travel VIP (that's completely untrue but I'd like to believe that to some degree, it's kind of true).
Anyway, we arrived with perfect timing and were immediately shown to the registration table, where we were on the guest list, as I knew we would be. Then we were given...free unlimited white wine! Whoo! VIP indeed.
Kind of a silly thing to get excited about but I wasn't expecting it so it just made it a thousand times better.
Needless to say since we failed to eat before the lecture we were kind of buzzed by the time the panel started, which was 30 minutes later than scheduled (something something Friday traffic and people getting off of work, etc).
It was a fascinating talk though. Let me put down some of the main points of discussion and what the responses from the panelists were:
- The reason model body sizes are so small are:
- The fashion industry is still male-dominated. Especially gay male-dominated. They make the women androgynous by making them small and unfeminine.
- It is the industry's way of giving women something constantly unobtainable, therefore, always a constant need to buy. If you get to the goal then there's no desire anymore - you already have it. If it's a constantly changing ideal then you need to continue buying in order to obtain it.
- There is debate that clothes hang better on a thinner body.
- There are a few fashion houses that are using more "real people" looking models. Many of them are noticed and do well but the majority of them do not. Seems even the fashion houses are being pressured by themselves.
- The need to be thin has even reached teenage boys. One of the panelists, a nutritionist, says that she has male clients come in now who say they want a particular body type.
- Many of the women on the panel were disgusted by this Dove campaign about how insecure real women are about their looks.
- They said that it was only about how women look, not about what they've achieved.
- The part that grated one panelist the most was how one of the women is shown hugging a man at the end - clearly she must be beautiful, she has a man!
- They also discussed about it was only about conventional, Western standards of beauty.
- A real campaign for beauty would be about what these women have done.
- The idea of "investment pieces" of clothing is just a sham to get you to pay for more expensive clothing. Clothing is not for investment.
Afterwards though - maybe it was the wine or the engaging discussion - both Sweden and I were starving. So we wandered around a little bit (the V&A is in a nicer part of town) and stumbled into a cheap Chinese place down the street. It was called Chopstix (and nope, has nothing to do with that horrible chain restaurant back in the States; this one was clearly family-owned and managed by a silent and slightly grumpy Chinese man):
Greasiest Chinese food I've had in a long time. We paid 5pounds for a 3 item box. Kind of a small portion in my opinion, but that's only because I'm used to American-sized portions for fast food Chinese. This was totally acceptable and we shared it.
It had chow mein, something called Korean bbq chicken and some other sort of stir fry with chicken pieces and sauce. All mixed together in one big heaping pile of sauce and grease. Tasty and surprisingly satisfying considering it all sort of looked the same after awhile. Kind of hilarious.
We also got the most massive egg roll I've ever seen in my life. This thing was basically the size of my face. It had mushy gravy veggies on the inside. Kind of salty, and relatively tasteless otherwise. But again, still oddly satisfying. I think I've been denying myself real food for too long. Or I was way drunker than I thought on that free white wine. Entirely possible.
I would likely not eat at this place again. But good to know it exists should I ever need to get sustenance.
We decided we should hit a grocery store to get more wine and snacks for the night. I looked at my watch and realized if we went then we would just catch the Waitrose across the street from my apartment before it closed. So we ran. And just made it 20 minutes before the Waitrose closed. Several bottles of wine, two bags of chips, and a mixed platter of sour cream dips later...we were home snacking and watching a movie.
Best Friday ever. :)
And that's how we started the weekend.