Protests in France against the fashion for thinness – archive, 1924 – The Guardian

Protests are growing more frequent in Paris against the fashion of thinness imposed largely by the dressmakers, but also by the more recent activities of a sporting generation.
While the latter is a more or less natural slimness, the dressmakers insist that all and sundry should adapt their forms to the tubular fashions of the day, even when these forms have far more in common with a sphere.

Elderly women in particular, it is alleged, have done themselves much harm by drastic dieting and too much exercise. It is not given to everyone, for instance, to roll the length of the dining-room twelve times every morning before breakfast without feeling shattered after the event.

Underwear typified the ‘tubular’ shape some dressmakers strived for in the 1920s. A show in a private home, 1925.



Underwear that typified the ‘tubular’ shape some dressmakers strived for in the 1920s on show in a private home, 1925. Photograph: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty

Probably it is girls who are the worst sufferers from the fashion. Heartrending examples are given by the anti-slim protestants of girls who go without every form of sweet, and work and play all night and all day in order to retain the required slimness. There are others who run sport to death in the interests of their figures.

Nor is thinness the only dangerous fashion of the moment. There is the fashion for no hats, which has gained greatly among young French girls. This, it is alleged, has produced innumerable cases of sunstroke and even erysipelas. There are the everlasting high heels and there are the glass bangles which, it is alleged, break very easily, and thus puncture the arm.

Of all these fashions, however, the most drastic is certainly that of slenderness. In the case of professional mannequins and others connected with the dressmaking trade it is, of course, essential. The dresses shown by them are tighter than would be worn by any ordinary mortal, and the mannequin could not sit down in them even if there were no danger of creasing them.

There are, however, extreme cases. It is likely that on the whole the fashion is a healthy one. It is certainly healthy by comparison with tight waists and tight shoes, and even the comfortable embonpoint which used to be largely due to over-feeding. It is natural that those to whom slenderness is a problem should agitate for a fashion rather more comprehensive in character.

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