The Notebook

'Imagination will take you everywhere'

The Size Zero Debate

Size Zero Size zero Size zero Size zero

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!Size zero

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?

Miranda Kerr Bar Refaeli Lara Stone Laetitia Casta

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.

One comment on “The Size Zero Debate

  1. Ren
    September 8, 2014

    I agree with this blog: however I would argue over the definitions of certain words (a pedant am I).
    First: Perfect, Perfection (etc.) just mean ‘complete’ to me; (humour me) when is a person complete?
    Second: who are the actual people who buy these clothes? to what extent are the models contributing to the sales?
    (just as an aside, it seems to me that the models are just a formality, and the ‘high’ fashion industry caters to different audience to that of the general public).
    Third: what exactly is a “normal sized woman”?

    I’m a man who’s gone through my fair share of body anxieties:
    Penis size is over emphasised (yes, yes; I know but read the rest of the paragraph…). I say this from the personal perspective, having seen late night entertainment/documentaries going into detail on penile augmentation. It’s the option of having fat injected into your penis or having a ligament severed, you choose.
    Muscle mass is over emphasised, for the most part; what is more disturbing is the connection between weightlifters/body builders and the drug culture of juicing (steroid abuse). We all have problems, but I’m interested in this particular discussion.

    I just don’t buy into the “size zero” crap, and I’d say the same thing to anyone I were to discuss with. Again, my personal perspective would be to publicise the kind of diet* these “size zero” models are living off of. I can remember a stories of a “size models” a handful of times over the years. Surely the routine, sparse diet; and lack of motivation for individuals to grow as people and mature from the kind of superficiality of the fashion industry that is presented:

    surely this would be an exemplary based to start a more profound discussion of the fashion and celebrity cultures.

    It seems laughable with the current rise in obesity that fashion models are getting to the point that they are morbidly underweight. I can appreciate that most women are conscious of their bodies and their attractiveness (but then again who, exactly, isn’t?); but I have several further questions:

    who are actually buying the clothes?

    why are those particular images being held in such high regard by young female adolescents?

    Is the current ‘body positivity’ movement really as healthy?
    (anorexic and morbid obesity are both unhealthy, let us not continue this charade)


    I found this blog informative and engaging,

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2012 by in Fashion, Women and tagged , , , , , .
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