The Thin Trade

With the recent passage of laws against too-thin models in France and California, we’re reminded of an unsettling photo series by German artist Ivonne Thein that first appeared in 2008 and has been exhibited in group shows ever since.

Titled 32 Kilos (70 pounds, roughly), the series presents cripplingly underweight women in exaggerated model poses, evoking similar images found throughout the fashion industry. Thein aims to show a reality that is morbidly unattractive, challenging prevailing conventions of beauty — i.e. thin, scantily clad, so-called flawless women.

Their faces obscured, the models in Thein’s work are not pretty. Rather, they are victims of society’s and the media’s skewed standards. They are also victims of visual manipulation; photo editing allows the artist to alter their appearance to sickly proportions, adding medical bandages in some cases.

The lack of physical diversity in Thein’s subjects communicates her critical sentiments regarding these unnatural body shapes. A woman’s body, she argues, is no longer her own, but a projection of unrealistic ideals. 

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