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Endangered Species Woman

Endangered Species Woman

We may be all in favour of fair play in fashion, food and the media, but what about ‘fair bodies’? Is such a thing recognised and, if not, why not? Even the most natural, fair trade garment or accessory arguably takes on an unethical slant when it is paraded up and down a catwalk by a model who is dangerously underweight, or who appears on the cover of a national magazine, quite clearly airbrushed to ‘enhance’ (or, one might argue, ‘falsify’) his or her appearance.

Feminist, psychoanalyst and well renowned author Susie Orbach believes that the situation is becoming worse and that the effects of media imagery on women has meant that irregular and potentially damaging eating habits have become the norm for many women.

And so Orbach is doing something about it. Something quite extraordinary. Her and her team have conceived of, created and launched Endangered Species Women, an international summit taking place in five of the world’s largest cities (London, New York, Buenos Aires, Melbourne and Sao Paolo), the aim of which is clear: ‘to challenge the toxic culture that teaches women and girls to hate their bodies.’

Launched last week in London at the Festival Hall, Endangered Species Women was kicked off by an inspiring speech from Orbach, who said: ‘Our aims are not modest, they are ambitious. We want every girl to grow up feeling able to enjoy her physicality and her appetites with relish.’

‘While our culture rejected bound feet, we send around the world these bound bodies as the calling card of modernity. Today we want insecurity and preoccupation with one’s body to be resituated as an economic, social and political issue.’

There followed an impressive roster of speakers as well as a discussion panel and a theatrical performance, all intended to awaken us to the extent of this modern ‘corporeal colonialism’.

There remains much to be done, right through from the initial consciousness-raising to passing the word to trying to open minds (yours and others) to a fresh way of thinking about the body, free from pressure to conform.

Sound like a dream? See Emma Thompson’s visionary statement of support for Endangered Species Women at www.endangeredspecieswomen.org and pass the word on to your friends and family. Everybody knows someone who has been affected by eating issues or body dysmorphia; only by joining together can we campaign for the recognition of ‘fair bodies’ in fashion.