Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Skinny my ass: Snejana and Sasha bite back at the lipo-Nazis

So I'm meandering around backstage before the Burberry show and I do a double-take.

Actually, I did the first double-take a few hours earlier at the D&G show when I thought I spied Ukrainian top 10 catwalker Snejana Onopka on the runway there. I was unable to confirm it on the spot however.

After my joke about her being potentially yanked off the runway at this week's Dolce e Gabbana show in light of Milan's supposedly draconian new model regulations - a comment I made in last week's "Paying lip service to skinny models at London Fashion Week" post - I had in fact read that Snejana was unlikely to be doing the European shows at all.

Onopka was noticeably absent from the New York shows - and, given the photos of her after the last season, it didn't seem very surprising.

Onopka, 20, who looks like an elongated version of Marlene Dietrich, became the poster girl for the skinny model brouhaha after dropping what industry types speculated last season had been a dress size, or possibly two, in between the AW0607 and SS07 shows. Subsequent images of her limbs on the SS07 runways raised eyebrows.

But there she was indeed in the flesh - so to speak - at Burberry. And surprisingly perhaps, she was happy enough to have a chat about the subject. Her supermodel mate Sasha Pivovarova, who looks like a cross between Gemma Ward and Leonardo di Caprio, also added her two cents worth.

So here's the interview in total. I do apologise for the gaps. With a room full of hairdryers, jabbering models, hair stylists and makeup artists, not to mention heavy Ukrainian/Russian accents, it was a little hard to hear at times. I've transcribed as accurately as possible under the circumstances:

We didn't see you in New York. There was some speculation that you might not do Europe.
Snejana Onopka: No, I did Shiseido this time. I have a contract with Shiseido so I can't be in New York because I did Shiseido this time.

You became a focus of the whole skinny model debate. Has this upset you?
Onopka: I think, I'm natural thin, I'm not skinny. My mum is natural thin. I don't think it's a problem. Of course I really like a healthy look but I think I'm really healthy. I'm just natural thin.

But how did you cope with the stories and pictures?
Onopka: I saw something but I don't really...

May I ask how much you weigh?
Onopka: Um, I think like 54 (kgs), something like this.

And how tall are you?
Onopka: 174.

What do you think about the whole debate?
Onopka: I don't really know. I'm not really thinking about this.

Is it something that a lot of models are talking about?
Onopka: No, we're not talking about this.

Really? Everyone else is talking about it
Sasha Pivovarova: We're working instead of talking.

So what do you think about it then?
Pivovarova: I think it's very good, healthy look for young girls. I think it's very good, the promotion of young, like healthy look. Like, all the young girls look at us. So that's why all of us... and everywhere... are trying to you know, show, when you are a 15 years old girl, that I am doing exercise every morning, I practise kung fu, I'm trying to eat healthy. It's a very good healthy look.

Do models eat backstage? There's a lot of food backstage.
Onopka: Yeah.

But all I see models eating is fruit. Not the panini etc...
Onopka: We just eat with Sasha, a lot of sandwiches. Like 30 minutes ago.

Pivovarova: No it's very good, like everywhere backstage they have food. Everybody is scared. So if you ate somewhere you can say that you had a dinner and not kind of worry about it. We're very happy about that.

So obviously it is a subject that you guys at least discuss?
Pivovarova: I don't know any anorexic models so I don't even know with whom I have to talk.

What about the fashion companies? In Milan they said they were going to ban people.
Onopka: I came here, I didn't hear anything about this yet.

May I ask how old you are?
Onopka: I'm 20.

They're also talking about trying to ban young girls - under 16. But I've seen Tania D on the runway today and she's what, 13?
Onopka: I think she's 16 [she is definitely under 16 - and chaperoned].

Pivovarova: And she's a Russian girl and Russian girls they grow very fast.

Do you think it's unfair or discriminatory to ban people?
Pivovarova: You are skinny as well. Are you anorexic?

God, someone else just said I look thin. I think I've lost a couple of kilos since New York. It's true, you just don't have time to eat.
Pivovarova: No you have time to eat.

So you're saying this is not an issue with the fashion companies?
Pivovarova: No it's not an issue. We just have so many things that we talk about, so it's not the first thing on the list.

It's a fact however that those three South American girls died recently. They were all models and they all had eating disorders.
Onopka: But it was like 27 kgs.

Pivovarova: But how many girls, how many people die from fat?

Onopka: But in all those girls, all those models, it was like 27 kgs. They were like 175, something like this. This is anorexia. I am not anorexic. I am naturally thin. Maybe it's a problem right now, but I'm just like this. I'm always like this. My bum is like this. I'm healthy. I eat a lot.

Pivovarova:'s a very good healthy look. I think it's very good, just to promote... for young girls, you know, they look at us, they want to be like we are and I think it's very good so we are trying to look healthy.

Yes but you're also tall and naturally thin. I think a lot of young girls probably don't really understand that.
Pivovarova: Yeah, if they try to be like me but please, I want to say, if you're going to publish it, I want to say (to) all these girls, all these little girls, please don't try to be like me. Just because I am naturally thin. So don't do all these diets, all this stuff, I never did it, I don't need it.

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