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This week, I had originally planned on digging into an analysis of attraction; however, some recent beauty-centric events —namely a few Ralph Lauren photo fiascos — have gotten me a little side-tracked. So, attraction will just have to sit on the back burner this time around.

I gather that pretty much everyone has already heard, seen and discussed Ralph Lauren’s horrendous job of photoshopping the already thin model, Filippa Hamiton. But seriously, it’s not something I could let slide this time around.

Since I was aiming for what turns people on to others this week, I’d like to pose the question of who the hell is actually turned on by Skeletor? Ralph Lauren artists must have imagined that at least someone would find these photos appealing. I mean, they’re trying to sell clothes.

We all know standards of beauty are constantly in flux, especially in the world of fashion. In the 90’s, fashion designers’ standard sample sizes were usually hitting right around a size 6. Today, models are subjected to the much stricter 0 and 2 standard sample size.

Hamilton, who is 5 foot 10 inches and weighs in at around 120 pounds, is a size 4 and clinically underweight. Before publishing the photographs, Ralph Lauren fired her for being “overweight” and not being able to fit into their clothes.

Thank heavens Ralph Lauren doesn’t have a medical degree. If 5 feet 10 inches and 120 pounds is overweight, they would have probably already recommended me for emergency gastric bypass surgery.

In all seriousness, when is this trend of marketing skeletally thin women going to stop? The unedited, true-to-life version of Filippa Hamilton is absolutely stunning. It’s no doubt that she’s got men clinging to her ankles and weeping for the chance to just be near her.

So call me crazy, but it’s honestly never crossed my mind that any man or woman would find someone so incredibly thin to be attractive and I’ve always thought that even un-photoshopped models are far too slim. I simply fail to understand why the fashion industry feels it’s necessary to put out photographs of such obscenely skinny women.

My guess is that it’s an idea that’s been accepted in stages — the public has slowly progressed toward accepting thinner and thinner versions of beauty. In accepting the fashion industry’s projections of beauty, we’ve allowed it to permeate into our own lives as well.

There’s a reason Ralph Lauren photo editors thought this was okay to put out and it has to do more with what the public has allowed in the past than what their personal idea of beauty is. In both the past and present, ideas surrounding beauty and attraction have been formulated by the public’s interests.

European cultures of the past found larger women to be more attractive than their thinner counterparts. From this there are several explanations ranging from childbirth ability to weight as a representation of wealth (and thus accessibility to food).

So in countries where food is plentiful and fertility issues are easily correctible, what is the basis for attraction? It seems to me the only, albeit semi-irrational, explanation is that the public now wants to see who can best avoid the plentiful food resources that we’re surrounded by.

In Mauritania, some young women are forcibly sent to camps in order to gain weight to be seen as attractive to men. They consume up to 16,000 calories a day, which works out to more than four times that of a male body builder. Mauritanian men find stretch marks on overweight women to have major sex appeal, and skinny women can pretty much forget finding a date, let alone a husband.

While it might be sickening to you that these women are forced to be fat in order to be seen as attractive, it should be equally sickening that women in the United States and similar countries are being forced to be thin.

We need to stop perpetuating the idea that women need to be rail-thin to be found attractive. Tons of new art forms and ad-campaigns have taken this avenue, but nothing’s going to change if everyday people don’t change.

I’m not advocating that everyone should become morbidly obese; all I’m saying is that women should accept who they are and those who are attracted to them shouldn’t be placing unrealistic standards on them.

While the photograph may be doctored, it’s only a few steps away from the reality of the situation. It remains a sickening reminder of the standards of beauty being imposed on women today.

If nothing is done, the situation is only going to worsen and we just might find ourselves facing a fashion industry in which no one even reacts to a model’s waist being smaller than her head.

Need advice? Life Love and Lust is accepting advice requests with complete anonymity through the Love and Lust blog linked from the features section of www.newuniversity.org.

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