They said/We said: Both sides to Natalia Vodianova’s “it’s better to be skinny than to be fat” comments

Photography by Peter Stigter
Photography by Peter Stigter

“C’mon guys, you know it’s better to be skinny than to be fat.” Or so says Natalia Vodianova, who accidentally stuck her foot in her mouth with said comment over the weekend during a Vogue Festival panel discussion with fellow models Jourdan Dunn, Eva Herzigova and Lily Cole.

The sound bite has since been touted as the new “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” (Kate Moss famously said that years ago) despite the fact that Vodianova quickly clarified her comments by saying it was unhealthy to be obese.

To further clear things up, the Russian supermodel took to her Facebook page last night in a post titled “VOGUE FESTIVAL and WORLD ECONOMY S.” (IN HER HASTE SHE FORGOT TO TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.) Vodianova apologized, saying the light atmosphere of the panel prompted her comments and that they had been taken out of context. She then went on to suggest that perhaps our perception of body image didn’t fall solely on the shoulders of the modelling industry but also on those of food industry/beauty industry/diet pill industry/book industry—essentially, everyone:

“…there are other industries that might be even more to blame like food industry that constantly reinventing ways of pushing food on us. Makes people stuff fridges with food, buying pills, millions of books on diets, shopping for the right clothes to hide those extra few pounds, beauty products. I guess some would say that’s what makes our economy go around. Yes, I choose to do more and eat less. Sorry world economy, I am a bad client!”

Body image is a complex issue that needs to be addressed on multiple levels.  But while we do believe her comments were sensationalized, whose comments aren’t in this day and age? It’s a good segue into the ongoing discussion about models’ rights, to be sure, but next time, Vodianova may want to tread just a touch more carefully.


Fashionista: “We’re not exactly shocked that her comments were exaggerated and sensationalized (that is what tabloids and the Internet do, hello), however we understand how the supermodel could find it unfair, considering the whole thing was probably more of a casual conversation, rather than a blanket statement.” [Fashionista]

Jezebel: “…Yes, the fashion industry and media’s contributions to a culture of negative body image and feeling never good-enough — unless you buy, buy, buy! — deserve scrutiny. That still doesn’t mean it’s “better to be skinny than fat.” [Jezebel]

The Cut: “In any case, she’s right to point out that many people in today’s thinness-obsessed developed world have a backwards perspective on the matter.” [The Cut]


Sarah Daniel, beauty editor: “If this quote was attributed to Dr. Oz or some other high-wattage health care advocate, we’d probably all be nodding our heads fiercely. (Though if skinny means emaciated then there’s no defending it). Everyone is fired up because a model said it, and because it’s unlikely Vodianova has that body purely because she chooses to ‘do more and eat less.’”

More Style