Anorexia: a mental disorder characterised by the obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.
And where does this desire to lose weight come from?
This comes from seeing ultra-thin models everywhere. Late last year, Paris put a ban on ultra-thin models, and they now state that models must have a body mass index of at least 18. A leading health expert wrote in an article that they published, that models who have a body mass index of under 18 must not have had food. These women will have thinning hair, dry skin, brittle nails, and cold or swollen hands or feet. However, their hearts are also affected, because the heart is a muscle, and they are losing muscle mass, and so their hearts are becoming weaker and smaller. Paris is the fashion capital of the world, and the whole world thinks of them that way. I believe that if the fashion capital of the world can put a ban on ultra-thin models, the rest of the world definitely can, to stop the promotion of an unhealthy body image.
Writer Kristy Clements, in her article published in December 2015 called ‘Who’s to Say When A Model Is Too Thin?’, says, “models on the runway have always been tall, slim, willowy, and yes on occasion, sometimes too thin”. Everyone thinks of the impact the models have on young girls, but they sometimes forget to think about the impact the models are having on themselves, and they suffer a lot more than realised. Models are constantly told that they need to lose weight if they want to obtain jobs in the industry. Model Charlie Howard was a size 8 and was told to lose more weight. She wrote an article exposing her now ex-agency, in which she said, “Let’s face the facts: even when I was seven and a half stone, I wasn’t thin enough for you”. Seven and a half stone is 48kgs, and Howard was 5ft 7in. Scarlett Gray was 17 years old when she was told by a modelling agency that she needed to lose more weight. When her story was revealed in an article, it was written that, “… despite already being able to feel her hip bones, she was told her hips were too large to go to casting, and she would have to work harder to slim down”. But how much more can she slim down? Models are constantly told to lose more weight, and so they go out and try to do just that. They work out more, and they eat less, and as a result they develop anorexia. This is a life-threatening illness, and it can get so bad that your organs start to shut down, meaning that you’re slowly starting to die. And so why is it still okay for models to look and act like this? The modelling industry is killing girls all around the world, and they don’t even realise it.
Another problem with these models being so thin, is that the industry and fashion designers then think they can objectify these women’s bodies because they are thin and are apparently beautiful. Model Georgina Wilkin, who was brought into the industry at around 15 years old, said, “I quickly understood my body was merely a product for other people to examine and criticise”. Not only was she suffering from severe anorexia, this industry was taking advantage of her body and was putting her in bikinis and short skirts. I saw an advert online, where a coffee company was trying to sell their coffee. The woman in the advert was wearing skinny jeans, a G-string, a bikini top, and was pouring milk all down her body. This is a coffee advert! So why is she made to pose this way? Do you think she got to choose what she was wearing in the advert? Of course not. This company got to choose the advert they wanted, and she just had to go along with it. Designers and modelling agencies abuse and objectify models’ bodies, putting them in skimpy and revealing clothing because they are so thin, and this is when they start to promote the unhealthy body image.
On the other hand, surprisingly, there are some people who condone skinny models. People say you need to focus on the clothing, and not worry about the models. Writer Kate Leaver says that “fashion week is a time to celebrate Australian fashion, and not worry about the skinny women modelling it”. Writer Kristy Clements agrees with Leaver, but she used to be an editor of Vogue, and so she knows what these models go through to look the way they do. Models have been known to eat tissues to ward off starvation. Clements then goes on in her article to say that she has been found to be an unwitting spokesperson, supporting the idea of full figure models on the runway, something which she says she has “… never said, and doesn’t particularly want to see”. But what is wrong with seeing a fuller figure model on the runway? Clements and Leaver are saying that we should not worry about the models, and that we should focus on the clothing. But they are wrong. We need to worry about these models because they are endangering their lives.
The main problem with these thin models is the promotion of the unhealthy body image. These women are so thin, and yet we see them everywhere, and so what does this mean? This means girls want to look like these women, and they will starve themselves to do it. Model Georgina Wilkin starved herself to be part of the modelling industry. She revealed, “… my lips and fingers were blue because I was so thin my heart was struggling to pump blood around my body”. In the women’s clothing section, there is a special place for the plus-sized women, but there is not one for men. So how does this make women feel? If they are even slightly overweight and have to shop in this section, they are almost guaranteed to feel terrible about their bodies, and honestly who can blame them? They are being called plus-sized by the whole world because of the section they are shopping in. Writer Kristy Clements says, “I have two friends, both with daughters who are not yet 16. These girls dream of being Victoria’s Secret Models, and both have developed bulimia”. Bulimia is an eating disorder in which you eat nothing, or you over eat, and when you do eat, you make yourself throw it back up. That is the problem with ultra-thin models. They make people want to look like them.
How would you feel if your friend turned themselves into a walking skeleton?
How would you feel if that friend was so underfed that their bodies did not function properly?
How would you feel if that friend needed your help standing, sitting, walking, eating, dressing, and every other day to day task?
How would you feel about ultra-thin models then?
The idea of thin models needs to be changed. So why is the world still letting these women parade around showing us clothes, promoting an unhealthy body image? Models damage themselves physically and mentally while trying to fit the modelling industries definition of beautiful. The world needs to crack down on ultra-thin models and follow Paris’s ban to stop the promotion of an unhealthy body image. These women are not only endangering their own lives, but also the lives and mental state of women worldwide.
NOTE: This article was written based on an oral presentation I did for my Year 12 English subject back in 2016