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Old 2nd February 2007   #1
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Default Furor over anorexic models (article)

Forbes has run some substantial and thoughtful articles on the emaciated-models issue, and today they published another notable piece on the subject:

The article effectively outlines the shortcomings of the New York "guidelines," in comparison to the more constructive Spanish approach:

In mid-January, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) issued its own "Health Initiative," stressing voluntary measures to "create an atmosphere that supports the well-being of these young women."

But that may not be enough to protect models -- and the millions of girls and women who emulate them, critics charge.

Too often, "guidelines are things that people just hang on a wall," said Lynn Grefe, chief executive officer of the National Eating Disorders Association.

While she's pleased that the CFDA has "opened a dialogue" on the issue, Grefe said she's waiting to see how these voluntary rules get implemented.

"Right now, I'm not sure how they are going to handle it if they have an anorexic girl in the shows," Grefe said. Given that most eating-disorder sufferers hide the problem, "How are designers going to know about it? And who's going to tell the girl?" she said.
the reality is that, in the modeling industry, there are case examples of very famous models who've come forward only later to say, 'I had to starve myself to maintain my appearance.' "

That's why the CFDA's pledge to help models who are "identified" as having a problem won't work, Brandt said. "Nobody goes to their employer and says, 'Oh, by the way, I have a significant health problem, and I probably shouldn't be doing this job.' That's just not the way it works."

More statements acknowledging the fact that the emaciated standard DOES cause young women to attempt to emulate it (with tragic consequences):

Experts on eating disorders say tougher measures by the fashion industry are desperately needed.

"I feel the new [CFDA] guidelines really fell short," said Dr. Harry Brandt, director of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson, Md. His clinic sees more than 800 inpatients a year and treats thousands more for anorexia and bulimia on an outpatient basis.

"I believe that within the industry there has been an implicit encouragement of dramatic measures to maintain a certain body weight for models," he said. "The fashion industry needs to take steps to ensure the health of their employees and, in a broader societal context, to take appropriate measures to see to it that we are providing realistic images to girls."

Images in fashion and gossip magazines of ultra-thin models and celebrities do have an impact on girls' self-image, Brandt said. "We see it in our work with patients on a daily basis," he said. "Patients describe the intense pressure they feel to be thin, to be considered successful and attractive in our culture."

Welcome efforts at stopping the insanity, as Kirsten previously posted:

On Jan. 31, a Democratic New York state assemblyman, Jose Rivera, said he would propose that a state advisory board be formed to craft guidelines to prevent eating disorders among models and performers under the age of 18. The measure may get support from the state Senate's majority leader, Republican Joseph Bruno, who last year revealed that his granddaughter suffers from anorexia nervosa.

New York City councilwoman Gale Brewer has also said that she plans to introduce a resolution on Friday to keep models with BMIs under 18.5 off the runways. "Women are encouraged to mutilate their bodies in the industry," Brewer told the New York Sun on Thursday.

But the comment that I find most revealing is one designer's facile "defence" of the status quo. Note how his reasoning undoes itself:

"At the end of the day, just making sure that models are healthy should be the first priority," Kamarake said. "I think that when we get into this territory of 'this certain body type is right, this isn't,' that it opens the door to something a bit scary."

That's precisely the problem! The fashion industry has, for decades, suggested the underweight body type is right, and the plus-size body type isn't! What hypocrisy! How grotesquely hypocritical for the industry to be making such an argument now, just because the dangers of the body type that they prefer are being revealed, while they were blilthely suppressing the full-figured feminine body for decades. Promoting an emaciated standard for society - that's what's "scary."

They are reaping what they sowed.

And of course, the two standards (underweight vs. naturally curvy) are not the same, and cannot be compared, any more than poison can be compared to water. The simple fact is that the emaciated body type does cause eating disorders (both in the women who present it on the catwalks, and more tragically, in the young women who emulate it), while the timeless ideal does not. So in fact, this is really a situation where an unhealthy ideal is (hopefully) being supplanted by a healthy ideal. To ignore the distinction - that would be "scary."
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Old 6th February 2007   #2
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Default Re: Furor over anorexic models (article)

Originally Posted by Chad
the two standards (underweight vs. naturally curvy) are not the same, and cannot be compared, any more than poison can be compared to water. The simple fact is that the emaciated body type does cause eating disorders (both in the women who present it on the catwalks, and more tragically, in the young women who emulate it), while the timeless ideal does not.

This is an absolutely crucial point. Since one standard of body image (the timeless ideal) is culturally and personally salubrious, while the other standard (modern emaciation) is toxic and often fatal, how can one not determine that one is "right," and the other "wrong"? It would be insane not to do so.

When a doctor knows that one medication will make a patient healthy, while a different substance will make him sick, that doctor must assert that the healthful medication is the "right" one. One substance is "right," and the other is "wrong."

Similarly, equating one cultural ideal with the other, voluptuousness with emaciation, is like equating medicine with poison.

The is no relativism between life and death.

In the Forbes article, it is also encouraging to see Emme, one of the more visible plus-size models, acknowledge the necessity of external regulation of the fashion industry. To the fashion establishment, Emme proposes the following:

"I want us to say, 'That is too thin, and, no, you will not walk in my show,'" she said.

Emme said she was shocked recently by photos sent to her of especially emaciated models appearing in a glossy fashion layout. "I was horrified to look at these pictures," she said, describing the models as "bags of bones dressed in haute couture."

"I was astonished, too, that these girls were booked, that there were obviously people around to see them, that they had to be fitted for the clothes. So, all of this had to be
approved," Emme said. "And these girls are skeletal."

"Approved." Exactly. A small handful of individual are personally responsible for the problem, because of their specific decisions.

Today's malignant aesthetic standards don't arise spontaneously. They don't happen due to magic, magnetic fields, or cosmic rays. They happen because specific individuals, in positions of cultural power, make them happen, by imposing their will on society.

This imposing of will would be fine, if their will were being imposed to establish healthy ideals, which benefit the culture.

But if the artistic power-brokers of any given time establish toxic standards that destroy culture, and adversely affect countless individuals (as is the case today), just because they can, just because their marginal tastes incline them towards an abnormal aesthetic that runs contrary to human nature, then they are like computer viruses that hijack a PC. They suppress the cultural hard drive, in favour of their own malicious code. The only solution to such a problem is (like the remedy for a computer virus) for their pernicious influence to be negated.

Just as an infected PC must be debugged of the harmful presence of a virus, before it can return to healthy functioning, so must contemporary society be freed of the modern standards that hold it hostage, so that the timeless ideal of natural beauty can be restored.

Dutch plus-size model Linda Caffa; modelling for in a relaxed, Old World environment:

Last edited by HSG : 21st February 2007 at 14:58.
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Old 6th February 2007   #3
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Default Re: Furor over anorexic models (article)

One can add Kate Dillon to the list of plus-size models who are (thankfully) advocating external regulation of the fashion industry. Apparently, Kate was on the CBS Evening News yesterday, and came out in support of the Spanish approach -- which (as we've all learned) is the only one that works:

At first, Charlotte Coyle was the only plus-size model vocally supporting this move, so it's wonderful to see more models realizing the necessity of greater pressure on an industry that will never stop poisoning women's minds, unless it is compelled to do so.

Kate knows whereof she speaks, since she almost died of anorexia herself, vainly pursuing th fashion industry's inhuman standards:
Last night on the CBS evening news with Katie Couric , the debate over modeling weight guidelines continued. Kate Dillon, a model who defies industry standards with her full figure, said that she was upset that the American fashion industry would not adopt the strict guidelines that Spain and Italy had endorsed...what Kate said on air tonight was that if the fashion industry of America would help women get healthy by having a weight standard, then women like herself would not try and starve themselves to death.
The simple fact is that these people are locked in a death roll with their androgynous standard, and sadly, only political efforts such as those of Jose Rivera and Gale Brewer have any hope of effecting change.
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