• France's news in English

Bigotry against curvy women 'as bad as racism'

Dan MacGuill · 30 Oct 2013, 17:01

Published: 30 Oct 2013 17:01 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In a TV broadcast earlier this month, Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld blamed the deficit in France’s healthcare system on “all the diseases caught by people who are too fat,” and repeated his view that “nobody wants to see curvy women on the catwalk.”

A group representing curvy French women,“Belle, ronde, sexy et je m’assume” (Beautiful, curvy, sexy and ok with it) reacted angrily and announced this week it was suing him for defamation and discrimination.

The group’s president, Betty Aubrière, tells The Local why France must change its law to recognize that prejudice against curvy women is as serious as racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

What Karl Lagerfeld said is disgraceful. In front of millions of people, on TV, he insulted fat people and especially curvy and full-figured women.

If he had attacked gay people or black people in the same way, would it have been acceptable for the three women on the panel that evening, who said nothing to intervene after his comments? Of course not.

But the effects of discrimination and insults like that are very serious. There would have been many young girls in France watching [TV channel] D8 that night, and many of them already don’t feel comfortable in their own skin.

And we see the consequences of public figures like Lagerfeld saying what he said, when we hear about young girls who have had to leave school because they were being bullied about their weight.

Insults and discrimination like this contribute to anorexia, which is a serious problem in France.

People like Karl Lagerfeld are seen as authority figures. They benefit a lot from their status and their fame, and we want an end to insults from figures like him, against larger men and women.

France needs to realise that prejudice against full-figured women is as bad as racism or homophobia or anti-Semitism, and we need a change in the law which makes statements like Karl Lagerfeld’s punishable as incitement to hatred.

We also need to get rid of the myth that being bigger is always a choice, and that it’s just down to bad diet. It’s not. In many cases it’s a disease, and for some people it’s genetically inherited.

Lagerfeld’s comments about “curvy women on catwalks” also raised an important point about beauty.

Something that would give young girls more confidence and feelings of security about their bodies would be if the world of fashion, which has always been so important in France, acknowledged the fact that full-figured women can be beautiful, too.

Story continues below…

We need more curvy models, and we need couturiers like Karl Lagerfeld to design clothes that can be worn by women of all sizes.

A major problem is that it’s often just too much hassle for curvy women to find clothes and outfits that make them feel pretty, or if they do, they can be far too expensive.

France needs a cultural change, and the fashion world could play a leading role in that. 

What do you make of what Lagerfeld said? Do you agree with Aubrière's opinion that bigotry against large women should be punished with the same severity as racism and homophobia?

Don't miss a story about France - join us on Facebook and Twitter

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Refugee crisis
What rights do Calais migrants have in France?
Photo: AFP

Can the migrants work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

Millionaire Riviera hotel boss kidnapped in broad daylight
The city of Nice where the millionaire was bundled into a car infront of shocked onlookers. Photo: AFP

The millionaire head of a luxury hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes was kidnapped in Nice in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available