The next time your girlfriend or boyfriend bemoans how “fat” she/he is after trying to fit into the latest fashion, you might want to inform her/him that some of the fit models, upon whose bodies the clothes are designed, spend their time on a drip in the hospital and while other models eat tissue to stay skinny. No, this is not a joke.
Fired after 25 years of service, former Vogue Australia Editor Kirstie Clements has written a tell all about the magazine industry entitled “The Vogue Factor”. The International Business Times revealed a few disturbing tidbits:
In her new book, Clements claims models still regularly starve themselves to stay super skinny and some resort to eating tissues to help them feel full. Clements quotes an unnamed Russian model who told her over lunch that her roommate was a fit model, “so she is in hospital on a drip a lot of the time.” A fit model, Clements says, is the body used by top designers and ateliers around which the clothes are designed.
And models starving themselves down a few more sizes so they can be booked overseas are called “Paris thin”:
Clements, who was Vogue Australia’s top editor for 13 years, recounts on one occasion she didn’t once see a top model eat a single meal on a three-day gig. Even worse, Clements recounted that on the last day of the job, the model could hardly hold herself up or keep her eyes open. She also claimed that “When a model who was getting good work in Australia starved herself down two sizes in order to be cast in the overseas shows … the Vogue fashion office would say she’d become ‘Paris thin.'”
These claims probably sound outrageous, but as someone who has worked in the industry, it doesn’t shock me at all. I recall weighing 93 pounds and having an agent tell me that I had big hips, when in fact, my hips were 33 inches. I wasn’t working in high fashion, either, where the standards for thinness are expected to be ridiculous.
Who can forget the models eating cotton balls:
So it hardly surprises me that very successful models need to stop in to hospital for a drip of nutrition. Is it the fashion industry’s fault? In as much as they set the standards, perhaps, but they are also a reflection of the broader culture.
The airbrushed world of fashion is certainly a large source of our ideas aabout how we should look. When we purchase clothing, we are informed that we should look a certain way. After all, it was designed on someone who may or may not be starving themsleves and eating tissues to feel full. The chances that it’s going to look good on the average person are slim (no pun intended). This tends to make us feel bad, even if we consciously reject the idea that we should look a certain way.
The fashion world has been in the spotlight before for their perceived contribution to the rise in eating disorders and body dysmorphia for things like selling women the idea that having a waist the size of a typical 7-year-old was ideal.
My EDIN reports that eating disorders are on the rise:
Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are on the rise in the United States and worldwide. Among U.S. females in their teens and 20s, the prevalence of clinical and subclinical anorexia may be as high as 15%. Anorexia nervosa ranks as the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescent U.S. females. Recent studies suggest that up to 7% of U.S. females have had bulimia at some time in their lives. At any given time an estimated 5% of the U.S. population has undiagnosed bulimia. Current findings suggest that binge-eating disorder affects 0.7% to 4% of the general population.
The cause of anorexia is unknown, but it’s thought to be a combination of three factors — biological, psychological and environmental. The Mayo Clinic defines the environmental as “Modern Western culture emphasizes thinness. The media are splashed with images of thin models and actors. Success and worth are often equated with being thin. Peer pressure may help fuel the desire to be thin, particularly among young girls.”
A common myth is that eating disorders only affect females, but in fact, they impact both sexes. According to MyEDIN, “Females are more likely to focus on weight loss; males are more likely to focus on muscle mass.”
Being skinny doesn’t automatically make you happy and it won’t make you more loveable. That’s the secret they never tell you. And they don’t tell you this because they are very busy trying to sell you things, by sending you the message that if you buy their thing, you’ll look like X, and if you look like X, you’ll be fabulous and everyone will want to be you and thus you will be happy. Not true. It’s not real.
But you are real, and that’s pretty damn fabulous. Much better than being on a drip or eating tissues.
Image: Fashion Photography Blog
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.