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Big and beautiful

It was the death of a Uruguayan model, Luisel Ramos, that began it all.

On August 6, 2006, 22 year-old model, Luisel, died of heart failure caused by anorexia nervosa while participating in Fashion Week, Montevideo, Uruguay. The young model, weighing in 97lbs at the height of 5'9”, hadn't eaten for several days prior to the event and had adopted a diet of lettuce leaves and Diet Coke for the last three months of her life.

The fashion world took this incident as a wake up call. In 2006, Madrid Fashion Week first banned underweight models from strutting the runway and Italian fashion designers followed suit by banning size 0 models from showcasing their work. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, the demand for sexy curvaceous models is growing, with top modelling agencies such as Wilhelmina and Ford Models branching out to form their own plus size models department.

Marilyn Monroe, one of the most beautiful women to ever grace Hollywood, was a curvaceous beauty at size 12. Then, during the era of waiflike models such as Twiggy followed by Kate Moss, the pressure to be thin fell on the fashion world with disastrous effects. Models became known for their extreme dieting fads consisting of nicotine, other drugs and Tab.

This, of course, reflected a very unhealthy body image standard to aspiring models and young girls all over, pressuring them into bad eating habits that resulted in eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia to skyrocket amongst teens and young adults.

While eating healthy and staying fit is encouraged to avoid obesity and health issues, starving yourself to be like your favourite celebrity is SO not!

Lets revert back to Marilyn Monroe for a sec; the woman used to lift weights and keep in shape to tone her muscles but never to lose weight. She embraced her womanly-ness.

Crystal Renn, another woman to embrace her body, was miserable while she was a super-thin model and frequently had heart palpitations when she'd worry that there might be calories in Diet Coke.

Her moment of epiphany came when she realized she was too exhausted to even walk! Her body was malnourished and it showed. Clumps of her hair would fall out when she'd run her hands through them. She knew she needed to live in the body she was supposed to have specifically a curvy size 12. When she reinvented herself from her stick-thin image to a plus size model, she was scared of rejection from the fashion industry that she loved so much, and was happily surprised when they accepted her with open arms and right into the pages of Vogue, the biggest fashion magazine EVER.

Crystal is just one of the many, MANY inspirational stories, another one of them is Velvet D'amour who strutted her size-20 silhouette for one of the biggest Haute Couture designers, Jean Paul Gaultier.

And ladies, another great thing about being curvaceous? The boys LOVE it. Celebs like Daniel Radcliffe have confessed to being gaga over curvy girls saying he prefers a woman with shape rather than a 'twig in a dress'

The world is going in the direction of healthy body image but is the Bangladeshi fashion scene following?
Not really.

While some stores specializing in traditional clothing do have all sizes available for full figured, curvaceous women, most others don't. The elite designer boutiques that are so well known in Dhaka are undoubtedly very size-ist with some stores even smirking at full figured customers upon walking into the store (speaking from personal experience). Its not just women these designers are prejudiced against, its men too. 'My clothes are designed for Men with good bodies' says one designer for a men's clothing store, 'if you don't have one, then don't shop at my store'.

When you look in the Billboards advertising fashion, all you notice are skinny models. You will find no hint of plus size beauties. Bangladesh fashion scene boasts about keeping up with the international fashion world and about being more modern, then why is not following this trend and promoting healthy body image? Why is not working hard at providing fashion for curvy individuals instead of making them feel bad about their bodies every chance they get? Why is it not employing Plus Sized models to showcase fashion?

Keeping all that in mind, we should learn to embrace whatever shape we were born with, be it curvy or waiflike. We shouldn't strive to be something we are not, especially by harming our bodies by not eating etc. Its very clichéd, but I have to say this, our bodies ARE temples and we have to treat them with respect. Nobody is ever happy with his or her body, even if it's a little thing, we'll always find a fault with ourselves.

No matter what your shape, everyone has struggled to find a sliver of peace when they are standing in the dressing room knee-deep in jeans that just refuse to fit and dresses that bulge in all the wrong places. Your start to think that something is wrong with you and list the ways you can change: 'I would look soo much better if I were taller, or thinner or bla bla bla'

So do yourself a favour and save yourself all the grief by making a body peace treaty with yourself. Vow to yourself not to disrespect your body, not to let others negativity (or your own) get you down, never join in with anyone to trash your bodies, to always focus on the positive things about yourself and to remember that everyone is beautiful in their very own way.

And the most important thing to remember is that you don't have to change your body to look hot, you just have to celebrate it in every way.

By Musarrat Rahman

Messed up

Walk into the room and you'll see posters crumpled up on the floor instead of on the wall. You'll see washing that got dirty from lying on the floor. You might even see a squirrel or two but since they blazed by so fast, you mistook them for rats. The empty bottles of body spray lying around are testament to the feeble attempts to control the smell in the room. This is nothing short of an artist's workshop, the artist in question being none other than your average messy teenager.

Is it really necessary to subject this space to what parents would call 'humanitarian intervention'? If you consider the sanctions imposed by parents, with a view to forcing the teens to clean up their rooms, you might be able to see that their steps are not that 'humanitarian' at all as most of the time those measures involve economic sanction: no monthly allowances, no trade with cousins and no gifts to be delivered from uncles and aunts. Okay the analogy of states might be a little too convoluted for me to keep up with, but what's all the point in this? Yes so the point is that everything, and I mean everything can be explained with a theory!

Explain Sir!
Three words. Conflict of interest! The middle-aged parents of the teenager are interested in one thing while the teenager is interested in another. Since parents are social and as we see in Desperate Housewives and other Hindi serials that the world of middle-aged people is a dog eat dog world, the parents have to try really hard to keep everything in their house fittingly matched with the very next thing the previous thing is next to. They want it to be just like an open house with a bit of delicious finger food arranged very nicely on the dining table and a real estate agent standing gleefully with a bunch of brochures fully prepared to explain that the coffee table is made of very special wood and that from the balcony you get a nice wide view of ... the next building. Yes the parents are in a perpetual fear of visitors. They always expect a visitor to pop by and they want to try their best to give them the impression of a paradise lodged in the heart of a messy city. And that is where the teenager's room comes into play because should the visitor decide to pop by to say hi to the said teenager, that visitor would have a hard time trying to remember the delicious finger food from that single purple sock in the teenager's room that seemed to move.

But why is it that these teenagers don't just play the game and give their parents what they want? Well it's because they are too busy! Teenage life is all about finding extra small t-shirts, finding the perfectly fitted pair of jeans and not washing the pair for six months to give it a natural fade, to study... the Harry Potter and the Tolkien books to be able to differentiate Gandalf from Dumbledore. All these take a lot of time.

So what is the solution to this conflict? Whenever you need a solution to a conflict, I must say, you need to call upon the service of politicians. They always have solutions that rarely work and at most times they come up with not just one but many solutions. That is why I happen to have three.

Number 1: This solution was discussed once before but here's a refreshing of the memory. Arrange everything in your room for once and then keep it locked up. Sleep on the couch in the living room, study using the coffee table and take your afternoon beauty nap on the rug in the front door with your dog. When the whole house starts to get messy your parents will see that it's better to let you mess up one small portion of the house.

Number 2: Since it's all the stuff in the room that makes rooms messy, don't keep any stuff in your room except the bed. Start using your parent's closet to keep all your clothes, the living room book shelf to keep your books and a hidden place in your parents bedroom to keep all your saved up money. Your room wouldn't have been cleaner!

Number 3: Now this is a serious solution. Give your parents a reason to put up with all your, I better say, 'eccentricities'. The reason might include, you studying extra hard and acing all your exams, you winning an award for some kind of excellence, you showing a real talent for the sciences or you getting invited to dinner by the Prime Minister because you've been the brightest student in the whole country. Just give your parents a reason to brag about you in front of their friends and they'll just leave you be.

But in the end these solutions are not the point of this article at all. The point is that by being messy over time you'll learn to hate messy. By the time you're middle aged, you'll probably be pestering your own kids to straighten up their rooms. And since middle aged people aren't that cool, you know, since in the year 2030 you'll probably still be listening to very cool and wimpy Justin Timberlake and reminiscing about Friends and Scrubs, while the kids then would have moved on to something cooler, you'd have a hard time making teenagers listen to what you say. So the real point is that you get uncooler as you get older, unless you happen to turn out to be a rock star.

By Hitoishi Chakma



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