B orn in London, England, her classmates called her "Sticks" because of her very slim, boyish figure, and at the age of fifteen, Hornby dropped out of school to pursue a career in modeling. She was nicknamed "Twiggy" by her boyfriend/manager, Justin De Villeneuve. In 1966, Twiggy began her modeling career in London with success following almost instantly.
England and, in fact, the world, seemed to have been searching for a change, something different, in what defined beauty and femininity. Twiggy represented that change from the 1950s curvy body type towards a modern, androgynous look. Her body appealed to men and women around the globe and influenced the general conception of femininity. The 1950s insistence that female sex symbols have curvaceous figures was destroyed by Twiggy, who became a positive celebration of androgyny. In fact, the 91-pound, saucer-eyed girl with an angelic face may have helped push standards of thinness a bit too far, leading many young women toward personal dissatisfaction with their bodies and, in some cases, chronic anorexia. For example, Gillian Bobroff, one British model of the 1960s, recalls, "It was dreadful.
... [Twiggy] started a trend, and you had to be just the same. I . . . started killing myself, taking a million slimming pills. I never ate. I had bulimia. It was a nightmare, trying to keep up" (Zimmerman 1997: 22).
Twiggy modeled for only four years and became an icon and one of the most recognized models of all times. She was perhaps recognized internationally as the world's first supermodel and was named the "Face of 1966" by the London Daily Express. To most people's surprise, Twiggy's thin frame was far from a result of anorexia, dieting, or exercise. "She admitted to eating 'anything, absolute rubbish,' including the ice cream and chocolate sauce piece de resistance 'Bananas Twiggy' whipped up especially for her at her favorite London restaurant. Her irreverent eating habits aside, Twiggy set a standard that most models found impossible to reach" (Zimmerman 1997: 21-2).
See also Anorexia
References and Further Reading
Gross, Michael (1996) Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, New York: Warner Books.
Hutton, Tim and Warner, Steven (2006) "Twiggy." Available online at <http://wwwtwiggylawson.co.uk> (accessed March 3, 2007).
Pendergast, Tom and Pendergast, Sara (eds) (2000)
"Twiggy," St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, five vols, Detroit, Mich.: St. James Press.
Zimmerman, Jill S. (1997) "An Image to Heal: Women, Supermodels, and Body Acceptance," The Humanist 57 (1): 20-5.
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