Thousands of Belarusian girls no doubt look up to her, so she’s keen to let them know that you don’t need to be super slim to be a successful model. Her measurements are a curvy 84 cm waist, bust 105cm and 115 cm hips. She’s proudly graced several covers and has appeared nude also.
Katya is certainly traditionally tall, at 178cm, but her voluptuous figure is a breath of fresh air in the fashion industry, where anorexia is almost the norm. International attention was drawn to the death of Isabelle Caro, from France, in 2010. At just 34kg, prior to her death, she took part in a campaign to deter others from following in her footsteps. Sadly, she lost her own battle.
Ms. Zharkova is eager for designers to put aside the trend for extreme thinness on the catwalk and in their advertising campaigns. Of course, they need clothes to hang well but it makes sense for women to aspire to a body shape achievable through healthy living.
Famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld caused a stir with his comment that ‘jealous fat mothers’ were the ones criticising the trend for models being thin. Other top designers seem to agree, noting that clothes won’t sell unless they look attractive on slim models. In some European countries, models are forbidden to work unless they’ve been certified as achieving a healthy weight and, in Israel, glossy magazines are required to reveal which pictures are digitally altered. In the USA, where 10 million women suffer from being underweight, those models deemed dangerously slim are being released from their contracts.
Anorexia is the plague of the fashion industry and, of course, ordinary girls are affected by the images with which they grow up. The first diagnosis of anorexia was given 100 years ago, with extreme slimness being popular in the 1960s, 1990s and in the mid-late-2000s. Ms. Zharkova is a healthy role model for today’s women, of whatever age, proving that beauty does not require extreme sacrifice.