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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Model Debate

I have been meaning to express my thoughts on TRIBE’s model search, but last week was filled with so many other events like Zen nightclub closing and the Machel Montano allegations that there was no time to focus on anything else. Now that the storm has passed and Trinidad is back to relative normalcy I can reflect on the comments left by several persons via the blog and email concerning the hunt for models to present to us the costumes we will eventually have to choose from.

The choice of model is all part of parcel of the entire marketing and advertising of the costume for various Carnival bands. For instance, if the target group of revelers are young, sexy and of a certain social and economic bracket that is reflected in both pricing of the costumes as well as the choice of models. Just take a look at TRIBE and Island People with their models who all look like they are all from the same genetic gene pool with slim, youthful and aesthetically pleasing features. Compare that to Trini Revellers who use more mature models since their target group is a different market all together. Now nothing is wrong with using SOME models who fit the stereotype that has come to be associated with the top two “it” bands in Trinidad, I mean fashion designers do the same thing when they select super skinny waifs to model their clothes on the runway though the average sized woman is closer to a size 12 than a size 2! However I think when it comes to Carnival costumes unless the band employs strategies to ensure that the “larger” ladies do not get accommodated with a costume by say pre ordering bras for instance, then the average woman who plays with the band is not reflected in the choice of model leaving us with a less than ideal example of what the band would like US to look like!

What happens therefore is that we ladies with the curvy shapely bodies, hips, thighs and legs all looking distorted compared to the svelte 18 year old modeling the costume of our dreams then force ourselves to diet and exercise with the hopes of looking as they do in costume! Reality being that only the other svelte 18 year olds or those lucky few who remain “naturally slim” even as they age, will achieve anything close to the having prominent pelvic bones grazing the top on a super low waist band worn low low on hips.

From reading comments like these, which were sent via email I know that I am not the only one who thinks to herself that the models do not represent the majority of women who play with the band:
"I feel like I represent a mass majority of your masqueraders, so that these women can see what their costume will REALLY look like use ME!!!"

I wonder if they are looking for real women!!!! And not the "Sticks" that they have modeling the costumes!!!
That way we can get a true representation of what the average body will look like in costume, instead of females starving themselves to attain that false/misrepresented view of perfection!!!!

My pet peeve with the models are also that they seem to be the same girls making the rounds at band launches as well as posing on the website; does Trinidad not have other models besides the ones featured on TRIBE, Pulse 8, Island People and even Trevor Wallace? Of all the band launches I went to last year Dream Team was the only one with the majority of models who were not “popular” on the band launching circuit. Now someone left a comment on the article that I wrote stating that the choice of models goes beyond size and race also factors heavily into it. The point being that TRIBE is a major offender in having light skinned curly haired models with the token black model thrown in to appease those that have called them racist before. Now, I do not believe that this viewpoint is true, having seen the same models used by TRIBE model for other bands. However I am not denying that there are models chosen who do have the light skinned /curly haired look and I think that has more to do with the mentality in Trinidad that if you are not “red you dead”.

The only band that features plus sized and regular models is Trini Revellers, and I have to commend D Krewe who used a lovely larger model along with their “smaller” girls to display their costumes at Trini Revellers launch. They even went a step further to offer a Plus Sized version of the costume on their website, therefore giving the women interested in this option an idea of how the costume would look on their bodies, The other pet peeve I have with costume modeling on the website is that the bands offer whole piece and taninki suits yet there is no example of what it looks like on a model…anywhere on the website!

So, in conclusion to this surprisingly lengthy rant is that I wish the hot bands would use models that more represent the masqueraders who play with them. That way when we work out or diet to fit into our costume it is because we want to be healthy,toned and fit with lots of stamina for Carnival and not because we want to look like the super skinny model who sold the costume to us lock stock and barrel. How many women buy the costume with the thought in their head that they too would look like the model on Carnival day, impossibly thinking they can starve themselves to 90 pounds only to end up choosing a costume that is all wrong for their body type!? All models do not have to be skinny; I mean we would not want the slim girls to feel like we have something against them but is it so wrong to use a model with some meat on her bones as well? D Krewe had a really great idea of using models that reflect all types of women and I do wish that one of the “hot” bands takes the initiative and shatters a long perpetuated model stereotype for 2008 and use some stellar models with REAL curves.
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