What a person should look like is a controversial issue in fashion industry. Every day we are bombarded with many different messages about body image in the media. This has a huge effect on our mental health and how we see ourselves. We live in a society where being very thin and beautiful are two highly-valued “qualifications” for women, and most of the times go hand in hand with success and wealth.
Beauty sells. This is a problem when the media produce unattainable images for women. An average female model weights about 120 pounds when an average woman weights about 169 pounds, according to the National Centre for Health Statistics. The rise in eating disorders and other problems are often related to negative body images that media create.
Most of the time, women believe what magazines tell them and are deeply affected by it. Unfortunately, images of very thin women are almost everywhere. The fashion industry has been criticised in the past for using models that promote unrealistic body types and help contribute to eating disorders among women.
After a long list of fashion models’ deaths, Isabelle Caro and Ana Carolina Reston, there are currently national and international efforts to make fashion industry take responsibility for displaying photos of men and women who are unrealistic.
Ana Carolina Reston
Meanwhile, a great government initiative started in France, and expanded to other countries such as Spain, Italy and Israel. A BMI limit was announced and anorexic women proved to be out of fashion. All models should present a medical certificate showing a BMI of at least 18, about 121lb for a height of 5.7 feet, before being hired for a job and for any agency contravening it.
By changing the way media portrays women, it could be the best and possible solution to the problem. Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani said recently that the fashion industry has a duty to “work together against anorexia”. “The industry has to recognise the link between its preference for abnormally thin models and the growth in eating disorders among young women”, he says.
The Gibson Girl, a creation of illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, was portraying the beauty ideals at the begging of 20th century. A slender and tall female figure with “voluptuous” bust and wide hips. The Gibson Girl was up-to-date not only on fashion and style, but also was promoting a good health through physical activity by practicing cycling or exercising. These Girls were definitely the Kardashians of 20th century’s turn, the ‘Century of Svelte”. σ
Of Course There Are Mermaids, illustration by Charles Dana Gibson
Love in a Garden, illustration by Charles Dana Gibson
header's image: VOGUE Italia, September 2011 (cover).