This is a year-old story, but it bears repeating:
“This [Fashion] is an industry that needs to be regulated in the same way that other occupations that carry inherent risks are. Should we really be allowing anyone in the workplace to be encouraging their employees to engage in an activity that leads to death or illness?”
— Harry Brandt, director of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore
Harry gets it. Body mass index limits are important as a means to monitor health in an industry that distorts our perspective on beauty, leading to deadly disorders. Anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders are treatable, and they need to be stopped at the pressure points first: that is, the motivation to be rail thin. As long as the body “norm” is so abnormal, women will torture themselves to fit into those threads. As long as we give up our powerful health to artists who clothe our women and feature them in mass media and entertainment, women will squeeze themselves into improbable molds, and suffer the physical consequences in the name of fashion. Look what stilettos do to our bodies over time: deformed feet; overdeveloped, too taught calves; chronic lower back pain. Imagine what purposeful starvation does to the mind as well as the body. Denying one’s own sustenance, around you in abundance, is supreme self-torture, as well as ultimate control and will power — a dangerous combination for the psyche.
I teach a beautiful, tall, lithe teenage girl who wants to be a model. She has already worked in the industry and has an agent. When we were talking about the stresses she is facing these days, she mentioned — through her tears — that she needed to lose five pounds because she is overweight by modeling agency standards. There is no place on this girl’s body that could shed five pounds. To insist on it should be criminal.
I encourage the boycotting and petitioning of the American fashion industry that won’t self-regulate for the health of its employees, and consequently — due to the influence it holds over what we wear — for the health of all women. Follow Milan and Madrid’s model of barring underweight models, and take it a step further: 18.5 BMI is thin enough.
Psst, pass it on.
To see “after” pictures, search for her on Google Image. They are too frightening for me to post here.