Wednesday, January 17, 2007

CFDA Responds to Anorexic Model Controversy

Last month, the organizers of Milan's Fashion Week announced a new rule barring the hiring of any model who is under the age of 16 or has a BMI of less than 18, as a response to a number of anorexia-induced deaths of runway models in recent months. Since then, everyone in the fashion world has anxiously awaited the response of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and on Friday they finally issued their recommendations: "that models with eating disorders seek treatment, young models work limited hours, healthy food be supplied backstage and smoking and alcohol be banned."


Do they seriously believe that "encouraging" treatment, making food more available and telling models they can't smoke or do drugs is going to change anything? These are not humans, they're MODELS, for goodness sake. They have the money and the connections to eat anywhere and anything they want, but they choose to subsist on cigarettes and cocaine (cough, Kate Moss, cough). And you have to believe that they have families and friends unaffiliated with the fashion industry, who already encourage them to put on more weight... these guidelines seem like a big load of BS to me.

I don't believe the fashion industry alone is the cause of unhealthy body image issues in young women, but they certainly continue to promote stick-thin bodies as the ideal. This is then replicated by Hollywood actresses (think Kate Bosworth and Nicole Richie) who see their careers explode once they lose enough weight to wear couture clothes, prompting fashion magazines to feature them in pictorials, which helps them establish a reputation as a taste maker, which leads to bigger movie roles and the adoration of millions of young women. And then, even when they're drastically underweight, they're put on the covers of gossip rags, where all publicity is good publicity. It's a sick cycle, and I do think that it all begins on the runways.

A lot of designers and defenders of the status quo like to say that "clothes simply hang better on thin women." I think that there is some truth to that, but there's a difference between "thin" (such as a tall woman who's a size 4 or 6, and still has breasts and hips) and "skinny" (size 0 or 00, not an ounce of fat on her frame). There's absolutely nothing attractive about someone who's 5'10 and 105 lbs, and when someone this size walks down the runway, it's almost impossible to focus on what she's wearing, as you're too busy searching for a cheeseburger to toss her way.

Last fall, Christina over at Back in Skinny Jeans wrote a great post talking about this growing problem, but things have only gotten worse since then. I hope that there is enough of a backlash to these guidelines for the CFDA to take more proactive measures to combat anorexia among models. More women shouldn't have to die because designers and editors decided to turn a blind eye to their disease.


Caroline said...

While your post has many good merits and there is the problem of so many models who are disgustingly thin, I am a bit appalled by your statistics. You stated that “There's absolutely nothing attractive about someone who's 5'10 and 115 lbs” and you pretty much recited my height and weight. I won’t refute the fact that a good portion of models are disgustingly thin and it is very sad how prevalent eating disorders are, but when people speak about weight and sizes, they often miss the fact of body frame size. I happen to be someone who has a very small frame, so my normal 115 lbs. looks only slightly thin. I don’t have bones protruding, in fact my arms and stomach are, what I consider, pleasantly plump, if I were to be a size 4 or 6, I would be pretty big for my frame.
I know it’s hard for some people to accept, but everyone really does have different body types. For many years women have tried to come to terms with never being as small as a size 8, so women should also appreciate some women will never be as big as a size 4 or 6. To be as thin as a model you don’t necessarily have to be unhealthy and unattractive. Women like me with small frames are just the same; we would just be a little more likely to have a modeling contract. So, please don’t assume every women thin enough to be a model has to be “absolutely” unattractive.

Sara Lee said...

My name is Sara Lee...i have had eating disorders for about six years now....i think it's wonderful that people are finally recognizing how terrible these models look...Like I'm a bit upset at what the woman before me said...She doesnt know what it feels to be short and average..Even though i look perfectly healthy, i am still looked at as fat..Y, u might ask??..Because of the media and these ignorant desingers...I mean "clothes hang better on thin women??!"...well of course !because they're basically coat hangers!...I on the other hand have curves...And that's one thing young teens like myself should be taught..