Ladies, don't be a size zero

I bet it's tough to be a woman sometimes.

The world constantly tells you how you must look. From the time you're old enough to look at a catalog or a magazine cover it's beaten into your head that you must have a waist this skinny. Your curves must measure this in one place, but this in another. Legs must be long and sexy, just like your eyelashes. Your hair had better look like the star of the month's, and don't you dare pay less than $200 for that new 'do either, cheapskate. And while you're at it, at least part of your wardrobe had better be designer. Otherwise, every female from wrinkly little babies to wrinkly old ladies risks not being Good Enough.

Two episodes this week illustrate the lengths to which designers will go to make you think you're not Good Enough.

First, the now ex-Ralph Lauren model Filippa Hamilton said this week that she was fired because she was "too large." (She is 5-foot-10 and weighs 120 pounds.) Hamilton spoke out after it was revealed that an image showing her comically thin was digitally altered.

Then, shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who is creating a special Barbie doll collection, said Barbie's ankles were too fat.

Barbie. The doll that's been criticized for years for having unrealistic anatomical proportions has fat ankles?

Both companies later went into damage control. The image was mistakenly released, the Ralph Lauren company said. Mattel released a statement - from Barbie herself no less - that said Louboutin really just wanted to give her feet more of an arch.

Designers can say what they want, but trust me, they do think you're too fat, too ugly or too whatever. The problem is, it's all a sham, and the designers know it.

I used to work in the graphics business doing catalog work. One of the first things I learned is the models don't even look like the models.

We routinely got instructions to digitally shrink a belly here or make a leg thinner there. Moles? Delete them. Hair friz? Trim it. Not tan enough? Darken her up.

This wasn't just on 20-somethings. It was everyone. We took wrinkles off the older ladies and the baby fat off little girls. I remember one customer that actually wanted to make 6-year-old swimsuit models more curvy.

And the illusion is not restricted to the computer. Anyone who has ever been on a fashion shoot can tell you that's all doctored up, too.

The camera sees a thin, perfectly proportioned woman wearing clothes that couldn't fit more perfectly if they'd been painted on. What the camera doesn't see is all the metal clips, the pins, and yes, the duct tape that makes those clothes fit perfectly and that model's body fit in them.

Those people on magazine covers and in catalogs are not real, but the companies continue to try to convince women that they are. That campaign against reality continues to spawn eating disorders and self-esteem problems for every generation of women.

I'm not advocating going out and eating a bunch of chocolate and ice cream. I've been overweight all my life, and trust me, you don't want those problems. But anyone who's thinking of skipping a meal because of a picture in a magazine should think again. You will never look like that because they don't even look like that.

But now, if you do happen to figure out how to use a computer to digitally alter your actual physical body, give me a call. I've got a lot of nipping and tucking to do.

E-mail Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays.