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Skinny-only message to African models

Posted by AregM

Skinny African girls may get to strut on Western catwalks but the fat ones have to stay at home. This is the message being delivered to the 500 or so Ghanaians who have registered with the country's only international modeling agency, Exopa. "A lot of them want to go. But not everyone has the chance to go because of the size the Europeans want them to be," said Exopa's Ghanaian director Sima Ibrahim. As models on Western catwalks get thinner and thinner, their hungry look has sparked noisy debate about the pressure this places on girls and women to achieve perfection even if perfection means Size Zero, the smallest American dress size, the equivalent to a British size four. In Africa, rolls of flesh are usually seen as a sign of wealth and status, not of ill health. Few aspire to a skinny look, as those who look starved and ill too often are that way through misfortune, not choice. But just as Africa's youth find themselves choosing between Western music and clothes and those rooted in their own tradition, they are now faced with two opposing images of beauty -- the Western ideal of an ever thinner frame and the African one of a buxom and well-rounded figure. Nowhere is this debate clearer than in the African fashion industry. Those who want to make it as a fashion model in the West are well aware they need to conform to Western sizes. "Those that come here who are skinny, they know they want to go international. The others, they know they are big, they want a job here in Ghana," said Exopa's Ibrahim. Curves still encouraged Few Africans want to see a superskinny model, said Sylvia Owori, who runs Uganda's Ziper models. "I think most Ugandans would be disgusted. They'd think she'd just come out of the village and she was malnourished," said Owori. ....Continued on
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