Ransbury 1 Paige Ransbury Mrs. Webb HHSE: 5 26 March 2007 When Thin Becomes Too Thin At present, a new dilemma has come to our nation's, and the world's, attention: dangerously thin, half-starved models who are setting the weight standard for today's society. People, especially young women, look at these models and want to look just like them, no matter what the consequences to their bodies and minds. This has caused an increase in eating disorders and has emphasized an unhealthy lifestyle. Fortunately, organizations like the CFDA have begun to create committees and form guidelines for models to help promote a healthier life style. As long as models, modeling agencies, and designers are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles, this dangerous trend can and will cease to exist. We are currently seeing a trend in today's fashion world where runway models are disappearing before our eyes. Models have gotten to be so thin, that now, "the average runway model is estimated to be 5 feet 9 inches tall and to weigh in at 100 lbs. – resulting in a BMI of just 16" (Klonick). Why is a BMI, short for Body Mass Index, of just 16 such a dreadful thing? Well consider this: "The standard accepted by the World Health Organization is that an index of under 18.5 is underweight" ("Debate"). Don't get me wrong, there are healthy models out there, but the majority of models have become thin and emaciated. As former model Lori Dyson puts it, "There are healthy models out there with a naturally high metabolism, but the models I'm seeing on the runway now can not possibly be healthy. Dull skin, sunken eyes, bodies that look like they could break any second…that is not healthy" (Dyson) This life-threatening trend Ransbury 2 became dead serious when several models, including 21-year-old Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston, died from self-starvation ("Fashion Bosses"). However, models haven't always been this skeletal. Dyson states that it was very different when she modeled in high school. "The emphasis was more on having a healthy, fit body. It was all about learning to balance eating right and exercising" (Dyson). And in todays modeling world? Now the emphasis is, to put it plainly, on looking like a stick. "In the 90s…the sample size used by designers was a size 6 to 8, now…a size 0 to 2" (Noveck). As you can clearly see, there has been a drastic change in models' weight over the years and experts agree it is time to put a stop to it before more people starve themselves to fit the severe standards of the fashion industry. The obsession over too-thin models has had a negative effect on today's society, particularly for women. There has been a definite increase in eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia ever since abnormally thin models plagued the runway. "A 2000 British Medical Association study…found a link between the images of the abnormally thin models in fashion magazines and an increase in [eating] disorders" ("Debate"). “Do you look at pictures of me and want to puke?" [asked Cindy Crawford when asked if models were the cause of eating disorders] Evidently they're not hearing a resounding "Yes!" from the seven million American women who suffer from eating disorders" (Immell). And it's not only American women who are suffering from eating disorders; teenagers are particularly susceptible to establishing an eating disorder because they don't always understand and cannot comprehend the damage they are doing to their bodies. Teenage girls strive to imitate their role models at whatever cost ("London"). What they don't realize is that the cost affects them both physically and mentally and can turn into an obsessive behavior that is destructive to their bodies and minds. “Too many teenage girls try to starve themselves into unhealthy thinness. The fashion industry is hugely powerful in shaping Ransbury 3 attitudes of young women" ("London"). By choosing overly-thin models, they are setting the standards for young women today. Runway shows, top model competitions, and even magazine covers all contribute to the hype of "Thin is in". “Teenagers should be figuring out who they are, how they feel about Iraq, about abortion. Instead, the question 'Who am I?' has been replaced by 'How do I look?'" (Qtd. in "Debate"). It's time for the fashion industry to realize that they are deeply affecting people's body images today in a very negative manner and to make way for healthier, larger models. So who, or what, started the hazardous trend of emaciated models in the first place? Models, designers, and fashion insiders all have very different views on the subject. Some blame the models, others the modeling agencies, and others blame the designers who want to create a certain look to showcase their designs. Donna Karan, a well-known fashion designer, "raised the heat" when she blamed modeling agencies for sending models who show signs of an eating disorder to castings (Karimzadeh). Modeling agencies got even more heat when Shape Magazine reported that they give models only a couple of weeks to "shape up, tone down, or ship out" (Immell). Models comply with modeling agencies telling them to slim down or risk losing money (Immell). Others, however, blame the designers themselves. Georgio Armani states that "As so often in the fashion world, things have been taken to extremes." But he blames the models, saying, "there are…women who never accept that they are thin enough" Jillian Blume points out that "he fails to mention that if his models don't fit into his microscopic clothes, they're out of work (Blume). So who's to blame for starting the trend? While not everyone will agree, I personally believe that it was a combination of models, modeling agencies, and designers that kept the trend alive. Designers' clothes got smaller and smaller as they tried to create a "look". Models slimmed way down for either personal reasons or because they wanted to stand out and Ransbury 4 get more work. Modeling agencies sent these tiny models to castings so designers only had tiny models to choose from. Other models saw that tiny models were getting more work, and more money, so they decided to slim down too. In a vicious circle, the vicious trend is kept alive. If models decided to stop starving themselves to get work, if designers made their clothes for a larger, healthier person, and if modeling agencies stopped sending food-deprived models to castings, then maybe this vicious trend would cease to exist and we'd have healthy models on the runway and healthier body images. For the people who have not been swept up into the skinny epidemic, a solution to this problem has been too long in coming. Lynn Grefe, chief executive of the National Eating Disorders Association, agrees. "This is long overdue. I consider this a workplace issue. You have this industry that has really not been looking out for the health and welfare of those that are in it (Qtd. in "Debate"). Fortunately for us, that is about to change. Fashion insiders are coming up with different plans to stop the dangerous trend. Already, "Madrid Fashion Week banned models with a Body Mass Index of less than 18" ("Debate") from walking on the runway. Now, for a 5- foot 9-inches model to be able to step foot on the runway, they would have to weigh at least 123 pounds ("Spaniards"). And it hasn't stopped there. Other fashion power houses are taking a cue from Madrid and coming up with restrictions and guidelines for models. "…in December, Italy's Chamber of Fashion [CFDA] decreed that models on the Milan runways will need a license signed by a doctor guaranteeing they are healthy [and are] at least 16 years old" (Karimzadeh). The CFDA has gone even farther in their efforts to make models healthier by working with designer Diane von Furstenberg to put together a committee to work on a health program. The committee includes "nutritionist Joy Bauer, psychiatrist Susan Ice, trainer David Kirsch, and Nian Fish, creative director at show production firm KCD" (Karimzadeh). However, the CFDA Ransbury 5 and Madrid Fashion Week are not the only organizations that have been working to promote healthier body image. Fashion show coordinators in fashion hot spots like New York and London have not launched a ban on to skinny models, but they are having discussions with designers supporting the use of healthy-looking girls ("Fashion Bosses"). Designers in the Italian fashion industry agreed to only hire models above the age of 16 and to require that models must submit medical proof that they do not have an eating disorder ("Debate"). As long as these organizations are devoted to promoting healthy lifestyles and, as psychologist Ann Kearney- Cooke puts it, "widening the spectrum of beauty," they can change the harsh standards of the fashion industry and end this dangerous trend. Since the first time extremely emaciated models hit the runway, our nation and the whole fashion world has had nothing but a series of unfortunate events plague us. First, models slimmed way down, putting their health at risk, to get work and earn money. Then came a rise in eating disorders due to the fact that people were starving themselves to look like the wispy models. Models got thinner and thinner, and were promoting an unhealthy body image. People finally began to take the issue seriously when several models died due to eating disorders. Luckily, it didn't take another death to make the fashion world do something. Organizations are being made and regulations set, and with everyone's cooperation, we can turn this trend around. We owe it to ourselves and our bodies to maintain a healthy lifestyle and not let models be our role models for how we should look. This trend should be obliterated for the betterment of all our lives. Ransbury 6 Works Cited Blume, Jillian. "The Weight Debate: Should Skinny Models Be Banned?" MSN Lifestyle. 15 February 2007 <http://lifestyle.msn.com/beautyandfashion/fashionweekdaily>. Dyson, Lori. Telephone Interview. 16 March 2007. "Fashion Bosses Agree to Debate Health Issue." MSNBC. 31 January 2007:MSNBC Entertainment. 15 February 2007 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16827607/.> Immell, Myra. "Why Thin Is In." Greenhaven Press, 1999. Gale Group Student Resource Center. 9 February 2007 <http://find.galegroup.com>. Karimzadeh, Marc. "Walking Papers." W 36.3. March 2007. Gale Group Student Resource Center. 13 March 2007 <http://find.galegroup.com/ips/infomark.do?&contentset=IAC- Documents&type=retrieve>. Klonick, Kate. "New Message to Models: Eat!" ABC News. 15 September 2006: ABC News Entertainment. 8 February 2007 <http://abcnews.go.com>. "London Fashion Week Won't Ban Skinny Models." MSNBC. 31 January 2007: MSNBC Entertainment. 15 Febraury 2007 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16808619>. Noveck, Jocelyn. "Will Skinny-Model Debate Trickle Down?" 5 February 2007: The New York Times Company. 15 February 2007 <http://www.boston.com/yourlife /health/ other/arti cles/2007/02105/will_skinny_model_debate_trickle_down/>. "The Skinny Model Debate Comes to New York." Access Hollywood. 31 January 2007: Celebrity and Hollywood News. 15 February 2007 <http://www.accesshollywood.com/ news/ah3805/html>. Ransbury 7 Bibliography Blume, Jillian. "The Weight Debate: Should Skinny Models Be Banned?" MSN Lifestyle. 15 February 2007 <http://lifestyle.msn.com/beautyandfashion/fashionweekdaily>. Dyson, Lori. Telephone Interview. 16 March 2007. "Fashion Bosses Agree to Debate Health Issue." MSNBC. 31 January 2007:MSNBC Entertainment. 15 February 2007 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16827607/.> Immell, Myra. "Why Thin Is In." Greenhaven Press, 1999. Gale Group Student Resource Center. 9 February 2007 <http://find.galegroup.com>. Karimzadeh, Marc. "At CFDA Health Panel, a Model's Story." WWD. 6 February 2007. Gale Group Student Resource Center. 13 March 2007 <http://find.galegroup .com/ips /info mark.do?&contentset=IAC-.> Karimzadeh, Marc. "Walking Papers." W 36.3. March 2007. Gale Group Student Resource Center. 13 March 2007 <http://find.galegroup.com/ips/infomark.do?&contentset=IAC- Documents&type=retrieve>. Karimzadeh, Marc and Rosemary Feitelberg. "President von Furstenberg Sets Agenda." WWD. 9 January 2007. Gale Group Student Resource Center. 13 March 2007 <http://find.galegroup.com/ips>. Klonick, Kate. "New Message to Models: Eat!" ABC News. 15 September 2006: ABC News Entertainment. 8 February 2007 <http://abcnews.go.com>. "London Fashion Week Won't Ban Skinny Models." MSNBC. 31 January 2007: MSNBC Entertainment. 15 February 2007 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16808619>. Noveck, Jocelyn. "Will Skinny-Model Debate Trickle Down?" 5 February 2007: The New York Times Company. 15 February 2007 <http://www.boston.com/yourlife /health/ other/arti Ransbury 8 cles/2007/02105/will_skinny_model_debate_trickle_down/>. "The Skinny Model Debate Comes to New York." Access Hollywood. 31 January 2007: Celebrity and Hollywood News. 15 February 2007 <http://www.accesshollywood.com/ news/ah3805/html>. "Spaniards: Thin Models Out of Style." ABC News. 10 September 2006: Good Morning America. 8 February 2007 <http://abcnews.go.com>.
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