The Price People Pay for Fashion by Kayla Cumbo
Many people suffer from eating disorders every year such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa. An estimated eight million Americans have an eating disorder. Although the number may be higher because not everyone who has an eating disorder shares it or seeks treatment. Over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first century the fashion industry’s ideals of what a model is supposed to look like has changed drastically over the course of time. Models have gradually gone from being healthy to abnormally skinny, in the process models are struggling to keep up with the fashion industry’s standards. The question that we should ask is should people who have eating disorders be allowed to model? People that want to be models or who are already models shouldn’t be allowed to model if they have a pre-existing eating disorder or are starting to develop one.
The fashion industry’s opinion for how models should look during the twentieth and twenty –first centuries has changed immensely compared to earlier times. Before this time period a Flemish painter named Sir Peter Rubens during the sixteenth and seventeenth century painted and selected women who had many curves. Historians say that before the twentieth century, women who were considered attractive had many curves and were not considered skinny. A person’s weight was often a sign of their social status. The bigger a person was the wealthier they were presumed. Today it seems the tables have turned and it is the complete opposite, obesity is more common among the lower class of Americans. Despite this fact many countries that still have starvation consider bigger women to be more attractive and beautiful. During the mid to late nineteen hundreds an English model named Twiggy (Lesley Hornby) came to the United States. Twiggy was a model, actress and singer. The way she looked altered the fashion industry’s standards and made new feminine ideal based on extreme thinness. Each year from 1967 models seem to become increasingly skinny. Standards of skinniness are becoming very intense. Consequently models are struggling to keep up with the pace. As a result they intentionally develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
In fact eating disorders are a worldwide problem for many people not just models, although many models have or have had one. For instance Ana Carolina Reston who was a twenty-one year old Brazilian fashion model. She worked internationally on runways and appeared in many print ads. She always looked like she had everything under control, but what many people didn’t know was that with her struggle to stay thin she a developed an eating disorder. Although doctors tried to save her she died being five feet and eight inches weighing eighty-eight pounds. Another example is Isabelle Caro who was a French model she died November 7, 2010 at age twenty-eight. She died from an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa. She spent the last few lives publicizing her ordeal and fighting for change in the industry. Caro’s death gave light to a string of fatalities in 2006 and 2007 of fashion models who suffered from eating disorders. Also four years before her death in 2006 there was an international push in the fashion industry to ban underweight models propelled by the deaths of two models in Brazil and Uruguay. Additionally in the beginning of June 2012 the editors of nineteen editions of vogue magazine agreed to stop using models under 16 or those who appeared to have an eating disorders in any of their issues. Although the fashion industry’s habits won’t change overnight they are slowly starting to change.
As a result of people who model with eating disorders it affects girls even young ones. It hurts their self image and tells them that you are only attractive or beautiful if they are skinny. Unnatural thinness is an unhealthy message to send out to girls. Many girls who watch fashion shows are young and impressionable. Additionally models with eating disorders give kids a bad example of standards of looking good and not being healthy. Studies have shown that girls as young as six years old care about how they look in the mirror. And many girls don’t like what they see. In fact, fifty percent of children from eight to ten years old report being “unhappy” with their bodies, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. This why people who have eating disorders shouldn’t model. Like they say pain is beauty.
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