'Imagination will take you everywhere'
Should size zero models be allowed on the catwalk?
Size zero is a delicate issue for the fashion industry. The reason for this sudden debate on models’ weight is a series of frequent and unnerving model deaths all linked to an eating disorder over the past 5 years. With London fashion week last month; a stampede of fashion buyers, magazine editors and front row celebrities were waiting expectantly for the latest extravagant creations draped on stick thin models to strut down the catwalk. This annual social gathering once again sparked concerns about how their appearances influence impressionable young girls.
Problems are not confined to the UK, Uruguayan model; Luisel Ramos was the victim of heart failure due to starvation.
Imagine what impression this gives to young girls? When all they see are ultra-thin models enhanced to perfection everywhere they look, in magazines, on bill boards; continually staring down at them. It is this kind of unattainable perfection that influences girls of all ages and convinces them they have to look a certain way to be accepted in society. When they adopt this mind-set it can develop into serious eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. These diseases can also become major mental disorders which have mortality rates as high as those seen in any psychiatric condition; these have also been brought to the public’s attention by celebrities in their constant desire to be accepted by the fashion and film industries.
A few fashion designers though have courageously voiced their opinion on the issue, Vanya Strok and Nargess Gharani of Gharani Strok stating “they love their models beautiful and healthy.”
A number of other designers have also been quick to state that they have “never actually gone for really skeletal models”. However, one designer who wanted to remain anonymous said that “the models are supposed to be living coat hangers as they are only there to display the clothes, not to add sex appeal or to reflect real women” she also added that she “personally thinks a slender figure is the best way to show off clothes”. What is difficult to comprehend is that the average dress size in the UK is a 16+, but designers still think beauty is about being a perfect 4!
Do not fret though, normal sized women, there is still hope! In 2006 Madrid Fashion Week banned size zero models only accepting healthy looking girls on the catwalk. With Milan quickly following suit; Milan rejected the size zero culture for their trendy Fashion Week, this immediately spread to other countries taking part in the heated debate. Despite this, sadly The British Fashion Council have gone against the trend by avoiding a ban on “size zero” models appearing in their shows, stating they would rather have “healthy girls” aged 16 and above but they also said that “what will make a difference is the commitment of the fashion industry to change attitudes through behaviour and education.” Hopefully they’re on to something!
Another person to get tied up into the size zero debate is the editor of the most prestigious fashion bible ever: British Vogue. In a strongly worded letter, Alexandra Shulman, expressed her outrage at designers making “minuscule” sample sizes. This she said “forced magazines to hire models with jutting bones and no breasts or hips which left Vogue to frequently retouch pictures to make models look larger. This letter was sent to many famous fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Prada, Versace and many more. This could be the impetus the designers need to get them to realise the consequences of their actions by having a well-respected person from within the fashion industry to point out the error of their ways.
Not only are fashion designers and insiders discovering how models influence the younger generation but the models themselves are realising the extent of their powers of influence.
Lara Stone, the model of the moment is a size 8! Shock horror! A size 8 in the modelling world is a rare thing. Not only is she a healthy normal size but she is a very popular and in-demand model, appearing in runway shows for Stella McCartney, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin and many more. There are other models too at the moment who possess more than a bag of bones; Laetitia Castas, Bar Refaeli, Miranda Kerr, to name just a few. It is these models who are starting to shape the fashion industry into something a little more wholesome, thus hopefully beginning to change the minds of thousands of women everywhere. Honestly – aren’t these women so much more attractive than the sickening images of the size zero models at the top of the page?
The size zero body is a curious phenomenon and I think the fashion industry have made a feeble attempt to change the attitude towards it. It’s not good enough just to talk about what should be done and then not having the commitment to match their convictions. The point I am trying to make is that a great deal of young women look up to the perfect faces and bodies in these glossy magazines and most of them aren’t even the real thing. But who tells them this? No-one!
Girls obsessed by this perfection and want the same will stop at nothing to reach their goal; just look at Luisel Ramos – she was told she could “make it big” and then she pushed herself to destruction. This debate will almost certainly rumble on; everyone must consider that perfection is something many people strive to reach but in many ways it doesn’t even exist.