The Real Problems With Topshop’s Controversial Codie Young Photos

It’s almost a given that professional models are thin, but Topshop recently came under fire for a photo on their website of model Codie Young, who many people considered to be too thin. Young recently took to her blog to defend herself against accusations of being anorexic, but we’ve got a whole host of problems  with Topshop, critics and Young beyond her size.

The Codie Young photo that prompted criticism of Topshop

Our first problem is that this photo is generally unflattering, and looks Photoshopped into oblivion. While they don’t specifically call out heavy-handed retouching, a Topshop spokesperson alluded to it when defending Young to the Daily Mail.

“We do recognise regretfully that the angle this image has been shot at may accentuate Codie’s proportions making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body,” said spokesman Andrew Leahy. “While we recognise that Codie is a slim young woman, she is a size eight, not a size zero. The clothes she is wearing are a sample size ten so in some instances they may look a little looser than normal.”

The replacement image of Codie Young, where clothes appear to be styled to actually fit her

Angles, Photoshop bobblehead brush – at least there’s some acceptance of responsibility for a photo that’s bad, no matter what the size of the model. The fact that a photographer, and a stylist, and a creative director couldn’t be bothered to shoot, style or retouch the clothes so they appeared to fit properly and not make Young look like a lollipop is ridiculous.

Moving on to the second problem; when much of the outrage erupted, groups chastised Topshop for using a “size zero” model. That would be a US size 0, which is equivalent to a British size 4 or 6 (US vanity sizes can vary that wildly). So a UK size 8 would be a US size 2 or 4. And Young could very well be perfectly healthy at a US size 2 or 4, but trying to make it seem as if she’s so much bigger than critics were complaining about is disingenuous.

Then there’s the problem of the Scarlet A (anorexia) being brought out for every girl or woman who’s thin.

We’ve stated before that faux health concerns over “plus size” models (who are often not overweight for their height to start with) being some paragon of poor health, or encouragements of obesity are bunk. So are statements that thin models aren’t real, or are all sick. It is possible to be overweight and still be healthy, and it’s equally possible to be underweight and healthy. Are there anorexic models? Definitely, but thinness is usually accompanied by sunken eyes, poor skin and a number of other symptoms that are a better indication of health problems than body type alone.

On her blog, Young writes:

“Firstly this is very hurtful to me as I am naturally skinny; and anyone who knows me would know that I have been naturally skinny my entire life as my dad is 6’5 tall and skinny an my mum is also skinny, not to mention that my entire family on my dads side are all tall and skinny like me!…

You know what some people are just naturally skinny and even if I tried to put on weight it wouldn’t matter, because it doesn’t matter what I eat, I dont put it on. sorry to dissapoint you but why should I be accused of something so awful as being anorexic when I’m most definitally not. I love food as anyone who actually knows me would know!!!”

Fair enough. There are plenty of people out there who, for various reasons, don’t put on weight even when eating normally. There are some people out there who, for various reasons, carry more weight than average even when eating normally. Throw in the fact that the model is 18, an age when many people just don’t gain weight like they do at 30 or 40 and it’s certainly not impossible for her to be thin and healthy.

Then we got to this:

“And finally yes okay I maybe an American size 0-2 and a UK size 8 so what. There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know one says anything to them because you don’t want to affend them! Just because someone eats a lot doesn’t make them healthy. Just like not eating anything doesnt make you healthy. And funny enough saying I’m anorexic affends me just as being called obese affends overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!” {Codie Young blog}

Before we lay into our last problem, can we revisit this whole size conversion thing again? Because while vanity sizing in the US can trend towards the seriously vain, a US 0 being the same as a UK 8 just doesn’t happen that often. Young admits that for whatever Topshop calls an 8, she is indeed a US size 0, which is what led to the initial criticism. No, it’s not right that people accuse her of being anorexic because she’s a size 0, but let’s not play size games and try to make it seem like “oh no! you’re crazy, she’s much bigger than a size 0.”

We digress though: Codie, dear, have you been on the internet? No one says anything to overweight people? Really? Here’s one example.

And after 8 paragraphs trying to hammer home that skinny =/= anorexic, you’re ready to offer the expert opinion that overweight = obese? Because being skinny without being anorexic is possible, but being overweight without being obese or having weight related health problems isn’t?

Frankly, the multiple spelling and grammar errors throughout her blog post concern us far more than her weight. Eating disorder, no, but have we ruled out a learning disorder?






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