The fashion industry is more than just selling clothes; it’s about selling an image. A large part of that image for many in this industry is looking tall and thin, really thin. The argument for desiring the stick-thin appearance is that the clothes look better on skinny models.
Sad when clothes come before the person.
Unless born with supernatural DNA, many fashion models feel the pressure to obtain unnatural thinness. Consuming only carrots and Diet Coke, smoking, and doing drugs are adopted into the model’s lifestyle in order to maintain the skinny image promoted by their modeling agencies.
Take, for example, Hila Elmalich, a 33-year old fashion model from Israel. Hila suffered from anorexia. She died from this disease on November 14 when her heart simply stopped pumping because it didn’t have the nutrients or energy it needed to do its job. Hila weighed less than 60 pounds.
This tragic event seems extreme, but I wonder…just how prevalent are eating disorders among fashion models? How many modeling agencies ignore or even support starvation diets and self-induced vomiting to keep their models skinny?
Yes, there are models out there who, well… eat! And they eat healthy. They take good care of themselves and scoff at the idea of starving themselves, making themselves throw up, or taking drugs just so they can get to an abnormally low body weight. These models look toned, fit, and beautiful. We should applaud these models. However, I am of the opinion that the eating disorders are more common than we’d like to admit.
Thankfully, one individual in the fashion industry is trying to change the way the beauty is viewed and put a stop to eating disorders among models. Adi Barkan is a well known owner of a modeling agency in Tel Aviv, and his work has prompted acceptance of new legislation requiring all modeling agencies in Israel to use the Body Mass Index (BMI) prior to hiring models.
Because of Mr. Barkan’s influence, many agencies now require models to pass a health exam and to have ongoing exams throughout the year. Models are educated on nutrition and how to take care of themselves in a healthy way. Other agencies require models to have at least a BMI of 18 in order to work.
I think these improvements are a good start to changing the fashion industry’s view of the ideal model. I hope the trend continues. Being thin in and of itself is not evil. The problem is the obsession and pressure to live up to an unrealistic image and the resulting damage to health and self-worth. Or worse, death. Tragically, Hila Elmalich was lost to the latter, and personally, I’d rather not hear of other models going down that path. Once is too much.
Originally posted 2007-11-28 08:00:29.