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Many people criticize the very thin fashion models that are regularly seen striding the catwalk or posing for photos. The thinnest fashion models are in, which is disappointing to see. What is even more disappointing is the negative impact models are having on body image of all women, especially young girls and teenagers. One question needs to be raised of this and that is whether models can be linked to young girls having eating disorders. Young girls watch what they see and it is only natural that they will try and copy models. Society seems to be under the impression that noticeable rib cages are in and women with a slight curve are out.
Society has not always been against models having curves and a bit of slight fat on their bones. Back in the 1960’s, the average fashion model was around 5”7 (1.7m) and weighed around 58kgs. Today, fashion models are two inches taller and weigh around 51kgs. In the 1960’s, models had a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) but the style soon changed because of a British model name Twiggy. Suddenly because of Twiggy, thin became astonishing – resulting in a new trend to be formed. This trend was not only copied by society but was idealised. The way the world considers a size 12 girl to be a ‘plus size model’ is surprising – it is hard to see the logic in that.
If you are still in doubt about fashion models being alarmingly thin, then read the next few sentences. Back in 2007, a 22 year old fashion model from Uruguay died of heart failure after not eating for days. Months later the model’s sister also died of an apparent heart attack minutes after stepping off the runway. Both deaths of the young girls helped trigger the size 0 debate, this in turn led Madrid Fashion Week to ban models with body masses below 18. This also encouraged other designers to choose curvier women to model for them.
Dita Von Teese is one of many people that prefer curves to bones in fashion models. Von Teese was auditioning models for the Central Pier Runway but had to turn down 12 girls because they were too skinny. In the words of Dita, Lingerie looks terrific on girls with shape; models that have a ‘bit of jiggle’ and have absolutely no ‘orange glow’ are the fashion models that will always be more genuine to magazines, the catwalk and the public. Vogue magazine is also another industry that has banned models for being too skinny. The magazine is also following the principle of, too thin is no longer in. They all agreed to ‘not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder’. This change by Vogue in banning unhealthy looking models is hopefully the key to changing the fashion industry. This in turn will show more reasonable images of women on their glossary magazine pages.
Young girls are idealising fashion models and they do strive to look just like them, but at what cost? According to 13 year old Katie Hennessy, models are role models to the public. “I do not see the need to be anorexic like most models, but some of my friends do. Sometimes they do not eat to keep their image. I think it is because so many people follow models, they just think that it is the right way to look. When in reality it is not at all – it is just unhealthy”. Whether we want to admit it or not, models are potentially the reason behind eating disorders in young girls and teenagers.
Over the past couple of days, photos have been passed around to residents within Perth to get their views on what looks good and what does not in a fashion model. The first picture shown was of Eliana Ramos – a size zero model and the second was of Jen Hunter who is a size twelve model. Out of the ten people questioned, all ten of them pointed to Jen Hunter – the size twelve fashion model, for her modest curves. The public labelled her as “very classy and healthy, whilst Eliana was classified as “scary and no were near healthy”.
It is a known fact that young girls and teenagers looking at fashion magazines may be the very girls who fall victim to a form of eating disorder. The stats on eating disorders show that 1% of the population of teenagers are anorexic and about 5% are bulimic. The statistics on girls who read fashion magazines are extensively higher. These stats alone show the connection between the two is surely stressed. If 60% of girls read these magazines it would make sense that eating disorders would be higher. If a girl’s self-esteem is already damaged there would be no doubt that images in a fashion magazine would influence them. Girls who are comfortable with their bodies usually will not be influenced into dieting by images that they see in a fashion magazine.
When we are being repeatedly bombarded with alarmingly skinny fashion models as the core of beauty, it is truly challenging to see the normal size female body as gorgeous. It would be beneficial to all women if agencies and magazines considered showing a much more realistic picture of a woman. Real sized women will always be just as beautiful and stunning as a size zero model. Confidence will always allow a woman to hold herself up and stride through a room as though she owns it. That is more appealing than any visible ribcage.