Victoria Beckham, seen here at her fashion show in New York, once called Piers furious over a headline that branded her 'Skeletal Spice' some fifteen years ago
Fifteen years ago, just before the turn of the new Millennium, Victoria Beckham phoned me in a state of high indignation about a newspaper headline branding her ‘Skeletal Spice.’
I was editor of the Daily Mirror at the time, but we were not, on this occasion, the villains.
In fact, full disclosure, it was the Daily Mail.
The offending image of her was deeply unflattering and made her out to be very, very thin.
Certainly significantly thinner than she had seemed in the flesh when I had seen her a few weeks previously.
Victoria was furious.
‘I am incredibly fit and healthy, this photo is all shaded and distorted.’
Then she got to the main point of her ire: ‘What bothers me is that all the young kids will see this and think that’s how they want to look. I felt so angry, it reduced me and my mum to tears.’
I thought of this conversation when I saw footage from her new fashion show in New York.
As the young models paraded one after another down the runway, they all seemed to share the same two identical physical traits.
1) They were painfully thin.
2) They looked painfully miserable.
This is the precise Victoria Beckham look, of course.
I saw footage from her new fashion show in New York. The young models all seemed to share the same two identical physical traits. 1) They were painfully thin. 2) They looked painfully miserable.
The one she has so carefully and skilfully cultivated and propagated to vast financial reward as one half of the global marketing phenomenon that is Brand Beckham.
Victoria is never seen either eating or smiling in public.
Her fashion currency is ‘sour-faced skinny’. Just as her husband David’s is ‘rugged, smirking tattoo. ‘
It’s not the real Victoria, of course. She’s actually great fun away from the cameras and loves a good laugh and joke.
But she knows it’s a look that sells, and sells so well that she is now one of the highest earning designers in the world.
Promoting her new show, Victoria insisted her new collection is for women of ‘all shapes and sizes’.
She added: ‘I just want women to feel like the best versions of themselves.’
If that’s true, then where were the models to reflect this vision?
All of them looked in need of a damn good meal and a Joan Rivers joke book to remove the unrelenting scowl from their faces.
I don’t criticise the models. It’s not their fault. They were hired to do a job and the specific job for a Victoria Beckham show is quite clearly to portray an image of sullen, skinny young women.
All of the models look in need of a good meal and a joke book to remove the unrelenting scowl from their faces. I don’t criticise the models. They were hired to do the specific job of a Victoria Beckham show
No, my issue is with Victoria.
She’s not the naïve young Spice Girl I met back in 1999.
She’s now 41 and a mother of four including a little girl of her own, Harper.
And to borrow her own words, what bothers me is that all the young kids will see the photos from her new show and think that’s how they want to look.
Is this what she, or we, really want?
A world of young women radiating sullen-faced misery and sporting bodies only one removed from Size Zero?
I know don’t want my own young daughter, only a few months away in age from Harper, growing up thinking that this is what she should aspire to.
I have a lot of admiration for the way Victoria Beckham conducts her life, personally and professionally.
Victoria is a smart woman and a great mom. Son Brooklyn was next to husband David (and Anna Wintour) at the fashion show, but she has a daughter too. Does she want young children her daughter's age seeing this show and thinking this is the ideal look? One of sullen faced misery?
She’s a smart cookie and a great mother, with a clearly very intuitive taste for clothes.
But I don’t like the message she’s sending to young women.
It’s not ‘cool’ to be miserable, or at least it shouldn’t be.
Nor is it ‘cool’ to be so skinny your bones protrude.
Ironically, she’s created a show that would perfectly befit the title ‘SKELETAL SPICE’.
Victoria Beckham won’t like this criticism, but she should heed it.
She has the potential, and the platform, to be a wonderful role model for women around the world.
But to properly live up to this mantle of highly lucrative responsibility requires her to reflect hard on the show she has just hosted, the models she used, and how she used them.
And then to acknowledge it was a mistake.
This was not a show designed to make women ‘feel the best versions of themselves’ as Victoria claims.
In fact, it was quite the opposite.