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Models and Weight

In: Miscellaneous

Submitted By robinsuzanne
Words 1578
Pages 7
In North America, women are given the message at a very young age that in order to be happy and successful, they must be thin.
So-called “plus-size” models are a growing presence on magazine covers, television and lingerie catalogues but at the Fashion Weeks of New York and London they are still the exception.
In a reflection of the expanding market for women who defy the super-slender ideals of the catwalk, leading fashion magazine Elle offered its readers a special issue in March featuring larger than normal models and sales jumped.
British designer Mark Fast introduced shows last year in which the models were all above a British size twelve, and American size eight, following criticism that his dresses were too skinny.
Despite their trailblazing status in the fashion world, when it comes to bigger models New York and London are slightly out of step.
The move towards more generously sized models has accelerated since the death from anorexia in 2006 of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston, which shocked the fashion world.
Spain and Italy banned models below a certain body mass index after her death, while Britain stopped short; banning only those aged under sixteen from the catwalk. “Sixteen corresponds to a level of maturity,” said Caroline Ruth of the British Fashion Council.
When Frederique van der Wal, a former Victoria’s Secret model, attended designers’ shows during New York’s Fashion Week this month, she was “shocked” by the waiflike models who paraded down the catwalk.
They seemed even skinnier than in previous years. “We know seeing super-thin models can play a role in causing anorexia,” says Nada Stotland, professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago and vice president of the American Psychiatric Association.
Because many models and actresses are so thin, it makes anorexics think their emaciated bodies are normal, she says. “But these people look scary. They don’t look normal.”
The Madrid fashion show banned overly thin models, saying it wanted to project beauty and health.
That means a five foot woman would need to weigh at least 125 pounds. “The promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don’t like their bodies,” says body image researcher Sarah Murnen, professor of psychology at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. “And body dissatisfaction can lead girls to participate in very unhealthy behaviors to try to control weight.” Experts call these behaviors disordered eating, a broad term used to describe a range of eating problems, from frequent dieting to anorexia nervosa to bulimia nervosa.
What worries Lamb most is that these images are filtering down to girls as young as nine and ten.
Some really sexy clothes are available in children’s size 6X, says Lamb, a psychology professor at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. “Girls are being taught very young that thin and sexy is the way they want to be when they grow up, so they’d better start working on that now,” she says. Lamb believes its fine for girls to want to feel sexy and pretty when they are teenagers, but that shouldn’t be their primary focus. “If they are spending all their time choosing the right wardrobe, trying to dance like a MTV backup girl and applying lip gloss, it robs them of other options.” There’s no question younger girls are getting this message, says Murnen, who had studied this for fifteen years. “We have done studies of grade-school girls, and even in grade one, girls think the culture is telling then that they should model themselves after celebrities who are svelte, beautiful and sexy.”
Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour magazine, says some models were teens who hadn’t developed their curves yet, which is one reason they appeared so thin.”
Most runway models are fourteen to nineteen, with an average age of sixteen or seventeen, she says.
Some are older. Many are five foot ten or five foot eleven. They average 120 to 124 pounds. They wear a size two or four. “If we get a girl who is bigger than a four, she is not going to fit the clothes.” Cutrone says. “Clothes look better on thin people. The fabric hangs better.”
Stephanie Schur, designer of her own line, Michon Schur, had her first official runway show in New York a few weeks ago. When she was casting models, she looked for women who had “a nice glow, a healthy look.” Schur says she doesn’t believe many young girls today are going to try to imitate what they see on the fashion runways. She says they are more likely to look to actresses for their ideal body image.
Ford believes the trend next year will be to move toward more womanly figures.
Model van der Wal agrees and says she’s trying to include women of varying figure types in Cover Shot.
“Women come in lots of different sizes and shapes, and we should encourage and celebrate that.”
Thousands of teenage girls are starving themselves this very minute trying to attain what the fashion industry considers to be the “ideal” figure.
The average model weighs 23% less than the average woman.
Maintaining a weight that is 15% below your expected body weight fits the criteria for anorexia, so most models, according to medical standards, fit into the category of being anorexic. Teenagers striving to attain society’s unattainable ideal image will just end up increasing their feelings of inadequacy. Teenagers are under a lot of pressure to be thin. They resort to starving, vomiting and eating only diet foods to try to be thin. Television is a big influence on them.
They watch shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place and feel they need to look as thin as the actresses on these shows. Many actresses we see on TV have endured hours of exercise and have deprived themselves of the proper nutrition in order to maintain a thin figure.
Society is brainwashing young people into believing that being thin is important and necessary. It’s unfortunate, but in today’s society, people have forgotten that it’s what’s inside a person that counts, not what’s on the outside. We need to start loving and accepting each other for who we are, not what we look like. If we learn to love and accept ourselves, we will also begin to love our bodies, no matter what size we are.
Parents need to also teach their children the value of healthy eating and not send the message that being thin is important.
If a child is raised to love and accept who they are and what they look like, they will be less likely to strive to fit into society’s unattainable standards.
France has just passed legislation making it illegal for the media to promote super-thin models. This bill to make the promotion to extreme thinness goes to the senate in the coming weeks. If passed in the Senate, it would allow judges to punish offenders with a fine more than $70,000 and three years of imprisonment.
The fashion industry is opposed to the idea of legal boundaries on beauty standards but the death of a Brazilian model in 2006 prompted efforts in the international fashion industry to address the consequences of using extremely thin models.
Even though the French Health Ministry says most of the 30,000 to 40,000 people in France with anorexia are women, Boyer’s bill applies to both male and female models; Anorexia does not affect only female models or only females in general. And, as evidenced in a recent study in the international Journal of Eating Disorders, the drive for thinness by both men and women is significantly increased when they perceive their peers are dieting or also striving to be thin.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia is one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in young women and up to twenty percent of individuals struggling with anorexia nervosa will die.
Since the start of Milan Fashion Week, billboards of a nude woman with protruding ribs and bone-thin limbs have shot up all over the city.
Her skeletal shape is shocking, and gives passerby’s an even greater jolt when they realize she’s posing for a young women’s clothing company. The 27-year-old is admittedly anorexic, and the ad reads “No Anorexia”.
But a recent poll in the United States found hat television and magazines made thirty-two percent of women feel pressure to be thin, twenty-nine percent to have a perfect body and twenty-nine percent to lose weight.
Luisel Ramos had a heart attack soon after walking the runway at a Fashion Week in Uruguay.
She had reportedly been trying to live on lettuce and diet coke.
Three months later, Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died at 88 pounds.
It’s believed she was told she was “too fat” at a casting call two years earlier. Ramos’ death prompted officials at Madrid Fashion Week to set a minimum body mass index of eighteen for all models. Last January in New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America announced new guidelines for designers, aimed at keeping models healthy.
While they’re not mandatory, the rules ask designers to identify models with eating disorders and that have nutritious food backstage.

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