The Young and the Hungry: Vogue Bans Underage, Underweight Models
Let’s face it: The fashion industry isn’t exactly figure-friendly. I mean, where else is it socially acceptable to look like a walking coat rack? And fashion magazines are some of the worst offenders, showcasing the latest styles on less-than-healthy bodies, spawning a veritable army of women who consider sugar-free gum to be a caloric splurge, and the stomach flu as a viable way to lose a few pounds. Young girls are often the most affected by the fashion industry’s impossible weight standards, which is why “Vogue” is taking a step in the right direction by banning underage and underweight models from the pages of the iconic mag.
In the statement that was released for all international “Vogue” magazines, it was stated that the mag won’t use models that are underage, or who appear to have an eating disorder. Instead, they’ve committed to only hiring models who promote “a healthy body image.” But the magazine doesn’t stop there. The initiative also promises to make their shoots more health friendly, by offering snacks and drinks backstage and at all of their shoots. Talk about putting their money where their mouths, or stomachs, are!
While the changes will not affect the rest of Conde Nast’s publications, it’s a step in the right direction. One activist has challenged “Seventeen” magazine to run at least one unretouched feature per month. While the magazine hasn’t committed to the change, can I just say that it shouldn’t be that big of a deal? I mean, aren’t teen girls pretty enough without all of the extras. Trust me; we don’t want to start telling 16-year-olds that they need a little nip and tuck. They’ll have plenty of time to agonize over the shape of their hips and the size of their pores after they’ve had a couple kids.
Underage models are a huge problem in the industry. Since younger models often have the perfect body for clothes; think zero curves, designers often look for under-16 talent to get the edge on the runway. Marc Jacobs knowingly employed underage models for his Spring 2012 collection at Fashion Week. Unfortunately, not only does this go against labor laws, it sets up young models-in-training for eating disorders to preserve their “perfect” bods.
Another point “Vogue” is making is that sample sizes are just too small for real girls. The initiative states: “We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.”
Hey, designers! “Vogue” isn’t making crazy demands that you only use pink fabric or create cocktail dresses exclusively. They’re asking that you make clothes that – crazy idea time – actually fit people! Isn’t that what fashion should be about? A sweater does not have to be a size 00 to be attractive on the runway. I can totally respect artistic vision, but can’t you have artistic vision with a size 6?
Alright, I’ll admit that “Vogue” hasn’t always had the best reputation for this kind of thing. After all, it’s the magazine that served for the inspiration behind “The Devil Wears Prada.” But the thing is, if an industry heavyweight like Anna Wintour makes a statement about the relationship between health and fashion, tons of others will follow suit. I mean, the woman launches careers and predicts trends, so offering a model a sandwich every now and again might add up to big business for designers.
For now, it’s time to sit back and watch what effect this initiative has on the fashion industry as a whole. While I highly doubt that all magazines are ready to turn over a completely new leaf, it’s a step – and a snack – in the right direction.
Author Bio: Stephanie Cable is a writer for CableTV.com. She is into fashion and watches television for inspiration.