The ever so shrinking world of being a model in the fashion industry
Each year, as fashion weeks all around the world approach, we are greeted by magnificent fashion lines, stunningly beautiful designs, ritzy parties all over the city, and the fresh new ideas from designers we have come to love. With such events, many issues of ethics within the fashion industry are brought back to light. One of the longest running issues within this industry being: Are these models portraying a healthy body image for the millions of men and women looking up to them? For years, body image has been one of the largest ethical issues surrounding the fashion industry. Since the 1960’s, models have begun to decrease in size, and it only continues getting worse and worse. With that said, it raises many questions, such as: How skinny is too skinny? Will this issue ever be resolved? When will enough finally be enough?
It has been taken into account that many of the models participating in such fashion shows continue to get younger and thinner as each year passes by. As models such as Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, and Tyra Banks leave the stages and newer, younger models come to light, they are many sizes smaller. These size 0 models continue to learn new ways to lose weight, as well as are asked in some situations to become even thinner than they already are. It is such situations that create eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, as well as spark such interest in the tabloids and newspapers.
The fashion industry has been one of the main ways for young boys and girls to find role models that they believe are suitable for themselves. What many of these children fail to realize at such a young age is that they could possibly be hurting themselves in the long run. The media portrays these celebrities and models as being beautiful and even somewhat perfect. Children, men and women believe that they need to be like these famous faces in every way possible, including their physical appearance. We also believe that we must look like these famous faces seen on runways and in magazines, and will go to extreme extents in order to do so. Celebrities and models today are becoming even thinner than role models of the past. The worst part is that this is what is seen as socially acceptable and even as a norm in society. Over time, the industry and many media outlets have caused the idea of what is seen as beautiful to “shrink”, meaning that all of these role models are no longer full figured or healthy-looking.
Some might say that this is just what the fashion industry has grown to become, and how it has evolved like all business industries tend to do. The fact is designers find it simpler to dress a smaller range of women for their shows. As Nigel Barker, photographer, spoke to journalist EJ Dickson for Salon.com, he stated that, “I love the idea of equality and all the rest of it – but obviously there are certain paradigms with the fashion business that are not so much to do with you having to be perfect, but it has more to do with much more pragmatic things. Designers simply can’t afford to make dresses in 10 sizes for a sample. They really want to make one size that’s a sample size, and for whatever reason, they decide it’s gonna be a 4, or if it’s a large size, it’s gonna be a 6. Quite often it’s between a 2 and a 4, and it fits a girl who’s around 5-foot-9, and that’s their look.” This is what the fashion industry has come to know and that could possibly be all there is to it. It is much easier for designers and fashion houses all over the world to create one sample in one size, in order to dress the models for their shows, and like Nigel has said, they have chosen to make such samples in a smaller range.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, also known as the CFDA, has recognized these issues within the fashion industry and wants to make changes. The have created what is called The Health Initiative, a way of educating designers and companies, as well as models themselves. They provide guidelines that must be followed, as well as send a message out that ‘Health is Beauty’, as stated by Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA’s President, and Steven Kolb, CFDA’s CEO, on their website. They have over 400 American designers that have signed up with them and agreed to follow the rules and standards they provide, in order to make the industry a better place for all people to work. The CFDA also partners with companies during the fashion weeks around the world, as well as for special events, in order to provide models and other workers participating in such events with juices and healthy foods to stay nourished.
The fashion industry is one of the fastest evolving and changing industries throughout the world. With such initiatives and standards being introduced, such as the work of the CFDA, we can only wait to see which aspect of the fashion industry will change next, and what designers and companies will be the ones to get the ball rolling. The reality of the model problem hits all designers and fashion companies, it is the true test to see which ones will make the necessary changes in order to shock the audiences, as well as combat such unrealistic standards that are currently set in place.