lights, camera, anorexia
Fame, admiration, lust, constant smiles and a different designer dress every day. I must admit, the life of a fashion model sounds pretty good when put like this. But when you throw in the thermogenics, diuretics, appetite suppressants, amphetamines, and a few ‘grey market’ bodybuilding supplements, it’s starting to sound a little scary.
Let’s put it into perspective: The average American woman is 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds, and yet the average American model is 5’11’’ and weighs 117 pounds. Fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women and a large proportion of them are not healthy, physiologically unstable and are promoting clothing that 98% of us cannot fit in.
Skeletal bodies strutting down the catwalk are thankfully becoming a thing of the past though, and despite the progress being painfully slow, health may one day be the new ‘in’ thing.
Over the last few years, fashion has been changing; they are learning how to reject bad health, anorexia and the illegal substances lingering in the model’s change rooms.
The realisation that things were getting dangerous came back in 2006, when the death of anorexic Brazilian model, Ana Carolina Reston, sent shockwaves through the fashion industry. She died from an infection caused by anorexia nervosa, where sufferers have an abnormal fear of becoming obese, creating an aversion to food. This was the same year that fashion model Luisel Ramos, 22, died from heart failure after reportedly eating nothing but lettuce and diet drinks.
But they tell us it’s all better now.
The Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, along with many other fashion shows worldwide, are adopting rules saying models must be fed, rested, counselled about health and nutrition, and banned from working before their 16th birthday.
Italy’s fashion world now has a self-regulating code that fights against unhealthy models by requiring them to show medical proof they do not suffer from eating disorders and calls for a commitment to add larger sizes to fashion collections.
Their punishment for not following the code? Less favourable times for shows.
France has a law making it illegal to promote thin models in the media.
And Spain are trying something a little different, weighing models before shows and requiring a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 18 or higher for models to be able to perform in shows. BMI calculates a measure of body fat based on height and weight. If you are under 18.5, you are considered underweight, therefore Spain are trying to curb anorexic models in fashion by adopting this policy. However, the BMI does not take into account things as muscle tone, cannot be seen to be an entirely accurate measure of health, and it is said that this policy discriminates against naturally thin models.
Whilst I am happy they are curbing eating disorders and extreme malnutrition in the industry, I would rather fashion models from every scale of the BMI to parade the catwalks. I would rather these codes and laws be enforced by something greater than just an unpopular time slot. And I would rather the fashion industry to have a different definition of ‘thin’.
The fashion industry is almost exempt from being a good influence on society, and I’m tired of seeing emaciated fashion models representing women.
An average of 2.9 million viewers turned over to watch the premiere of America’s Next Top Model, 2010. I guess the catfights and bitchiness were hard to resist… But what about the bad influence on those 2.9 million viewers who see young, beautiful girls being told they’re ‘curvy’ when they’re only a size 10?
It almost feels like if you want to become a fashion model, you have to give up ever feeling good enough.
What do you think? Is the ‘too skinny’ and ‘too curvy’ epidemics ever going to end?