Janet Street-Porter: Don't blame Kate. It's the fashionistas who love skinny models

Despite all the hand-wringing, nothing has been done to stop women starving themselves for the catwalk. It's all about money

Share
Related Topics

You can't blame Kate Moss for the fashion industry's love affair with skin and bone. But when she told an interviewer how she ended up thin because "you'd go on shoots with bad food or get on a plane and the food would be disgusting ... or go to a show and there's no food", you do want to scream: "Kate, love, you could have stopped for a sandwich! You know, that thing with two slices of bread and something in between."

But, there again, Kate, and I've met her many times, doesn't really inhabit the same world as you or me. How could she, having being spotted at 14, the same age I was trading in my milk bottle-bottom glasses? As a teenager, I was queuing to get into clubs each night and swotting for exams during the day – while Kate was flying round the world being photographed in her knickers. Her appeal has always been androgynous, fun, hard to pin down.

I know – because she told me – she doesn't eat a proper meal in the evenings. That's how she's kept her figure. Frankly, there's not a lot wrong with that; in a society where far too many people stuff themselves I've seen Kate eat a full breakfast, but never dinner – she cleverly just pushes a bit of food around her plate and sips a drink.

Kate wisely does few interviews, but lets slip enough to reveal that she never wanted to be too thin – implying that it was what her paymasters preferred. Now she's in a position to dictate her terms, but plenty of younger girls aren't so lucky. So who's helping them? Next month, London Fashion Week kicks off, and in spite of endless hand-wringing about size-zero models, with the Government and the British Fashion Council setting up a much-publicised Model Health Inquiry, what progress has been made to ensure that models don't starve? Bugger all.

The situation is the same as when Kate started out 20 years ago: an unspoken code among the designers and photographers which decides that size 6 to 8 is best. Plans to make all catwalk models pay £250 for a medical check and a doctor's certificate to show they're "fit to work" have come to nothing because, as a spokeswoman said, "Milan, Rome and Paris wouldn't agree."

The fashion world is a business, and the Government should never have got involved. Nothing must deter buyers, fashion writers and models visiting London and oiling the wheels of a multimillion-pound business that needs all the help it can get in the face of tough competition from abroad. The laughable Model Health Inquiry has achieved nothing, because there was no will for it to do so.

None of this is Kate Moss's business – she makes her living by continually travelling and working hard. One nasty female columnist – who makes sure the photo on top of her column always features her in a tiny petticoat – carped last week because a solid gold statue of Kate, valued at £1.5m, is to go on display at the British Museum. This columnist claimed "our vacuous-faced, bow-legged Mona Lisa has about as much mystery as a jellyfish".

Wow! That'll be a jellyfish worth around £40m, then. A jellyfish who's never told young girls not to eat, ordered them to smoke, or encouraged them to take drugs. Frankly, Kate Moss is who she is. A hard-working millionairess. And the British Fashion Council is spineless and pathetic.

Is Jacko modelling himself on Keira Knightley

A landmark birthday for Peter Pan, Michael Jackson, who turned 50 on Friday. He decided not to celebrate, but to spend the day quietly with his family – the family of kids who have no contact with their mother and spend their days following Dad around the shops in Las Vegas, where he generally wears pyjama bottoms for public appearances. (We get worked up about Gary Glitter having access to children, while Michael, who paid off the families of two boys he formed "close" friendships with, is still allowed unsupervised control of his own youngsters.)

Much has been written about Michael's addiction to plastic surgery. Judging by recent photos, he seems to have abandoned his previous role model – Liz Taylor in her prime – and opted for a more contemporary female: our very own Keira Knightley. The lank black hair, the hesitant smile, and boyish torso, and he's got that Knightley simper perfectly.

Meanwhile, our talented thespian has been doing interviews to promote her latest film, 'The Duchess', which opens next month, moaning about the agony of wearing 27 different costumes for her portrayal of the 18th-century Duchess of Devonshire. Powdered wigs next for Wacko?

Strictly same old faces

I wonder what boxes casting directors ticked when selecting amiable John Sergeant, former chief political correspondent for the BBC and one time political editor for ITN, for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing?

The one old hand the whole country wants to see on the show, and who says he'd love to do it, is the doyen of the Lib Dems, Vince Cable. I'm sure he's been asked, but mindful of Nick Clegg's plummeting popularity ratings, he has clearly decided to focus on his political career rather than a popular TV shows.

Sergeant is roughly the same age, and a jolly enough chap on Have I Got News for You. But with his appearances on The One Show, he has become just another BBC face, the kind they like to pack out these extravaganzas with. Of the 16 contestants, about half appear on the BBC already.

What women want: a decent loo

In spite of a directive in 2007 requiring local authorities to ensure that town planning recognises the requirements of both men and women, it hasn't happened, according to a report published by Cambridge University.

Men and women really do spend their days differently. Women have complex journeys dropping kids off at school, going to work and getting the shopping before returning home. Many want crèches and schools near their place of work.

We're big public transport users – only 30 per cent of us can use a car during the day – and women make up 75 per cent of bus passengers. Pavements aren't designed for buggies, and most women prefer parks with plants and ponds, rather than vast green spaces for kicking a ball about.

We need public toilets and we need better lit streets. But don't hold your breath.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Are you a Secondary School teacher looking for work in Suffolk?

£105 - £140 per day + Competitive pay: Randstad Education Cambridge: Teaching ...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Teacher

£130 - £131 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ks1 teacher required for m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found  

When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools

Chris Blackhurst
 

August catch-up: second languages, the secret of love and is it all right to call someone stupid?

John Rentoul
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?