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

Recruitment Genius: Technical Service Engineer - Vehicles

£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's premier supplie...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate