A couple of months ago I blogged about the inappropriateness of a Vogue story about a mom putting her young daughter on a weight loss diet. A couple of weeks ago, Vogue took an important stand: Beginning with the June issue no models under 16 or with an obvious ea ting disorder will be used in the magazine. I don’t think Vogue went far enough. But I join with Tyra Banks, supermodel and host of America’s Next Top Model, (see Tyra's interview on CNN) in applauding Vogue’s decision.
On March 19, 2012, Israel's government passed what many are calling the “anti-skinny-model” law. The law bans the use of underweight models (below a BMI of 18.5) in advertising and requires publications to disclose when they use altered images to make women and men appear thinner. The new law requires models to produce a current medical report at every photo shoot stating that they are not malnourished by World Health Organization (WHO) weight standards. WHO guideline is that a BMI below 18.5 is indicative of malnutrition. The aim of the law is to encourage the use of healthier models and to “heighten awareness of digital tricks that transform already thin women into illusory waifs.”
These are not the first efforts to address the issue of the use of anorexic models. In 2006 after two very underweight Latin American (~BMI of 13) models died, fashion organizations in Italy, Spain, and India banned catwalk models who have BMIs below 18. Then in 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of America adopted a voluntary initiative setting 16 as the minimum age for models and requiring snacks be available during New York Fashion Week. Below are Vogue’s current policies:
The fashion magazine’s new 6-point policy states:
“1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.
2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows, and campaigns.
3. We will help to structure mentoring programs where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative.
4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.
5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.
6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.”
In my next blog, I will argue that these guidelines don’t go far enough to protect models or the public and unveil my recommendations.
Nutritionist Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto, co-authors of The Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders, Gūrze Books. Marcia is also author the soon to be published Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders (September, 2012). Read more from Marcia and Nancy by clicking here.
Copyrighted by Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto