Monday 27 December 2010

Gretel's Rant of the Week

Gretel Hallet, came on our Chocolate Fairy Training last year and is running workshops in East Anglia.  If you live in the area and would like to attend a Beyond Chocolate course, Gretel would love to hear from you!  Meet Gretel.

Ok, I am cross (again!).  I have just received a Long Tall Sally catalogue and an email from the company advertising their new range of clothes.  The mission statement on their website states, ‘At Long Tall Sally our mission is to be the first choice for tall women’s fashion worldwide.  All of our clothing is designed in house, carefully proportioned to flatter tall women 5’ 8” and above, in sizes UK 8-24; US 4-20; EU 34-52.  Shopping for tall has never been so easy, or so beautiful’.

Doesn’t that just sound great?!  No more standing in front of mirrors with ankle swinger trousers, no more waists lines up around boob lines?  Hips and knees all the right places? 

Well, yes, but have you seen the models they use?

Check out their website at

Their models are size 8-10 maximum.  They are all very tall women, often over 6’.  And they are beautiful women, make no mistake about that.  But they have no figures.  They are beautiful sticks.  They have no breasts, no hips, no thighs, no buttocks.  In a recent catalogue they drew attention to the ‘curves’ of their token size 12 model.  Well, I couldn’t see any curves and she didn’t look any larger than the other 8-10 models.  I really don’t think a catalogue aimed at tall women should feature such very thin models.  The average British woman is a size 16; taller women are unlikely to be much slimmer than that.

Frankly, LTS may as well show their clothes in a catalogue full of coat hangers.  It would have the same effect.  The clothes just hang straight down on the models without any evidence of feminine curves anywhere.  How am I supposed to know what these clothes will look like on me?  I have no other point of comparison with the models than our height.  I’m not quite 6’, but I am in LTS’s height range.  However, I have bumps and bulges in the places one would expect of a woman my age and height.

I have ordered clothes from LTS in the past.  They come in the post.  I try them on at home and then I always send them back.  They just don’t suit me and I wonder if that’s because they were actually designed for the women in the catalogue and not for ‘real’ women in the ‘real’ world. 

So I’m throwing in the towel when it comes to LTS.  I’m not going to order their clothes any more.  I’m going to put their catalogues straight in the recycling bin without even looking through them any more.  I have contacted the company about this issue in the past, but they have continued to use these impossibly skinny models in their catalogues.  If at some time in the future they decide to use ‘real’ size models, I’ll look again, until then it’s goodbye LTS!


  1. Tall, thin women cannot be described as having "no figure". They simply have a different figure to the more rounded ones you later describe. While I agree that LTS should not use a single body shape to model their clothes, I strongly feel that no women's bodies should be dismissed as "not real".

  2. I understand what you are saying Mantooth - but if you look at these women, they don't have the shapes that would help me to see how the clothes would look like on me. If you think about the women on catwalks, you may agree that they don't represent the majority of British women and that the clothes they model may not 'size up' well to fit 'ordinary' women. I have the same problem with LTS - the clothes look good on the hanger and on their models, but when I add in my bumps and curves, the clothes look totally different and I can't wear them. I agree that the phrase 'they have no figures' was probably a little too strong but this was a rant! They do have bodies, but they don't have what I would consider figures - as they don't have discernable breasts, thighs, bums, tums etc. Using women as coat-hangers isn't helpful when modelling or selling clothes and I'm hoping that the fashion industry will move towards using women that look more like the average woman in the future.

  3. "No figure", "beautiful sticks"
    Wow- that is actually very insulting.
    Imagine if someone criticised Evans for using "beautiful lumps of lard"?
    As mantooth said, just because someone has a different figure to you, doesn't open them up to criticism. And your response just makes it worse - you continue to insult them and this time lay it out point by point!
    I see how these models are no help to some of us when choosing clothes but I see no reason to insult them. Criticise the company all you want, but making personal imsults towards the models isn't cool and is surely the opposite of what BC is about?
    I have many friends who are very slim and who would love to put on weigh- they are just as conscious and stressed by their bodies as anyone else- even more so as it seems to be perfectly acceptable to criticise them and call them sticks.
    Also "Using women as coat-hangers isn't helpful" surely all models are "coat-hangers"?
    This post has actually made me ashamed of BC and its work- turning on other women as they don't look "real" enough for you is not something I want to be part of.

  4. But what is the average woman, Gretel? I am a tallish hourglass shape, and women who are tall and thin, apple-shaped, small and sturdy, very petite, hugely obese or narrow shouldered would also not represent me either.

    We should accept that women come in different shapes and sizes and not dismiss one body type (the ectomorph) as "not real".

    I don't agree with the media celebration of one body type any more than you do, but I feel it is important to fight against it without scorning women's body shapes, regardless of size. And that is surely the BC philosophy, as the poster above me says.

  5. I guess I was focussing on my frustration that a whole catalogue full of clothes that 'should' be suitable for me, aren't and that the company persists in employing models who are so thin that the clothes hang on them like clothes hangers ... there's abvolutely no point in using models that thin unless the clothes are only designed for women that thin. I didn't intend to 'scorn' anyone's body shape, but models are under pressure to maintain an abnormally low body weight and a shapeless figure - another model has just died from anorexia - and I can't buy clothes with confidence if I can't see them modelled on a woman with at least some curves.

  6. Gretel- we all get why you were frustrated (I think the 99.9% of women who don't resemble models, no matter what their siz,e do) but I for one find it sad you are still justifying your rant and yet there is still no apology for insulting all the women who don't fit your ideal of "real" and using the death of someone to try and get out of it and justify your insulting is, well, insulting

  7. Good grief, give the woman a break! She's apologised for being rude and is explaining her anger. And you know what I agree with her. I'd like to see diverse models in catalogues. I'd like to see the petite,the tall and slender, the hourglass, the apple and the pear. We all deserve to wear clothes that flatter and suit and it would be nice to see them on models that give us a good idea of whether a design is for us.

  8. I think we ALL want to see a diverse range of models- but that doesn't excuse insulting people- and there has been no apology.

  9. I see absolutely no need for an apology here - Gretel said the models were beautiful, end of. At 19 stone I would be happy to be called a lump of fat, because it is to an extent factual, if that factual description was prefixed by the word beautiful. If you really wish to take political correctness to it's ridiculous limits so that you can justify being unreasonably nasty about someone's honest opinions for your own ends so be it, but please go and do it somewhere else.

  10. A rant is a rant..and in this case I agree. Companies Like LTS are living in cloud-cuckoo land if they think they can go on using very thin models when THE MAJORITY of the stock they sell is to women who are not model-shaped. It is not helpful to their sales and it perpetuates an inaccurate role-model. No wonder some of us want to rant and get carried away sometimes...

  11. Gretel is right though as the magazines and catalogues only portray a very small minority of the population. I am a size 10 and would fit into lots of the clothes portrayed,but it's the age of the models that put me off. I am 42 and don't look my age but cannot identify with lots of the clothes presented and yes it does put me off. If you watch the M&S advert you will see that the 'celebs' are so much shorter than the models.How many women do you know are over 6 foot and size 10? I know one and she is a size 14 clothes so still not reflecting LTS. Models are in a very small minority,but we are expected to fit into the mould. Not me I'm not a clone.

  12. I have to agree that the reason for the rant is right- just a shame that it had to insult some people. I would also have no problem being called fat. But I would be upset if someone said I wasn't a "real" woman because of my weight- whatever it was which I think she was saying had happened

  13. I'm quite happy to apologise for the use of the word 'real' when applied to the models in the LTS catalogue - clearly that word wasn't helpful in explaining what I was annoyed about. I guess what I meant was that those women aren't representative of the many thousands of women over 5'10", including me. They are real women, of course they are, I just wish the catalogues would stop forcing them to be so very thin - I can't think that it's healthy for them in the long-term.
    I do know one woman who's taller than me and a lot thinner and she does look like the models in the catalogue, but she's the only one I know. I'm sure there are others, but the majority of women in Britain (of all heights) are size 16+ and LTS's clothes don't 'size up' at all well - they look elegant and graceful on the beautiful models (and they are very beautiful women), but the clothes are totally different in fit and shape on a woman who's the same height but a larger size.
    It's about time LTS acknowledged the diversity of their potential market and used models in all the sizes they sell, not just the very lowest.
    One of the managers of an LTS store told me that the models are actually smaller than the lowest size LTS sells, and the clothes are all pinned round them to adjust. If LTS don't sell clothes smaller than an 8, they certainly shouldn't use models smaller than an 8.
    I would like to emphasize that in these rants I am speaking as myself, not as Beyond Chocolate. I do believe absolutely in the Beyond Chocolate principles and many of my rants are in response to things that are inimical to those beliefs.
    I believe absolutely that women should be free to be whatever size they want to be and that they should be free to eat and live however they want to - my concern in this case is that if catalogues aren't challenged about the size of the models they use, more women will starve themselves, more models will die of anorexia becuse the industry is obsessed with showing clothes this way. It's time for a change.

  14. i find some ranges suit me much better than others Boden for example sells skirts in two lenghts and monsoon used to be good up to size 22 until their colours went all funny. Its frustrating but I remind myself that my blonde willow size 12/14 friend has just as many issues about buying clothes as I do


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