How Thin is Too Thin in the Fashion Industry?

While browsing through various fashion magazines, rather than admiring the seasonal trends, you may instead find yourself staring at the models’ figures rather than the outfits they are donning. Instead of looking like healthy women that young girls can adore and imitate, these models appear emaciated and sickly. It is common knowledge that appearance standards for models have changed dramatically over the past few decades, in fact, “Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less”. Pressure from the media encourages young women to be skinnier and skinnier, which begs the question, how far will this epidemic go before someone puts their foot down and demands change?

Isabelle Caro, a French model, who died from anorexia in 2010.

With the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week quickly approaching, it will be quite interesting to see how the models will look this season. While the fashion industry has made some development in discouraging the too-skinny look, such as in 2006 when Madrid banned models who fell under a certain BMI level from their catwalk, this decision was not well-received by modeling agencies and fashion designers alike. In the vain world of fashion, it is difficult to convince those who believe that skinnier is prettier that they are potentially destroying young girls’ lives.

However, due to increasing pressure from sources outside the fashion world, large-scale magazines such as Vogue have just recently begun to make small but significant steps in order to eliminate models that appear too skinny from appearing in their advertisements and editorials. While this is a major leap in the right direction, perhaps the magazine should follow the guidelines employed in Madrid and only allow young women over a certain BMI level to appear in their magazine, rather than simply eliminating models that look as though they have eating disorders from their editorials. This way, young girls who aspire to look like the models shown in these magazines will have realistic and healthy goals, rather than starving themselves to death.

While these new guidelines for models will hopefully save lives in the fashion industry, this still does little to prevent young girls from aspiring to achieve something that is nearly impossible and more importantly, dangerous. Although Vogue may ban models that appear to have eating disorders from being in their magazine, they still continue to Photoshop these women into figures of beauty that just simply do not exist in the real world. Magazines will turn a perfectly gorgeous girl with a healthy body and digitally enhance her into an unrealistic representation of a real-life Barbie. Of course, young girls most likely do not know, or care, that these models do not look like this in person, so many will continue to strive for this ideal image of perfection no matter what the cost.

Jessica Alba: Before and After Photoshop

It is an extremely difficult task to convince members of the fashion elite that their perception of beauty may come at the risk of young girls lives, which turns the small improvements that have been made thus far into significant steps in the right direction. However, the fashion world and its standards for beauty are far from perfect and many changes still need to be made. In a world where looks are everything, the fashion industry certainly needs to give itself a makeover and start providing young girls with images of real and healthy models to represent the ideal image of beauty.

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