In 2006 the debate over the shockingly small size of models was sparked by the deaths of two models who actually starved to death.
In an article by the Guardian
author Jess Morely writes, "In 2009 British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman sent a strongly worded letter to many of the world's top fashion houses, asking them to stop producing "minuscule" press samples, which force her magazine to hire the skinniest of models in order to wear them.
The size zero debate is emotively linked to several high-profile deaths among anorexic models, but Designer Maria Grachvogel is not convinced that anorexia is to blame for the shrinking size of models. "The model industry is international now, and body shapes that a decade ago were unusual in Britain have become standard. Ten years ago, the standard British body shape for a 5ft 10in model was a size 10 with size seven or eight feet. Now there are many, many Eastern European models who are that tall, but with very fine, narrow bone structure. Typically they have size five or six feet. They are built differently."
These girls may be perfectly healthy. The problem, as Grachvogel points out, is that 'this is an unachievable body shape for most women. It is absurd and frustrating that women are so obsessed with trying to conform to a body shape which is simply impossible for most of us.'"
The chicken/egg debate has plagued the fashion industry since 2006 and the industry has received criticism ever since. What lies at the heart of fashion is business just as it is in sports, politics, even the fitness industry. Fashion houses must be able to sell what they make and in order to do that they must produce according to the demand of their customers.
Is is unfair to place so heavy a burden on the fashion industry which only exists because consumers buy their product? Is the industry responsible for modeling "healthy" or "correct" behavior for the rest of us? Do we place the same burdens on the fitness industry with their crazy equipment and diet pills that are designed to make money and not to ensure lifestyle change?
Certainly the dip in the number of 'plus sized models' is disconcerting...is the demand not there or is it that designers are finding that its not in the public mood? Would it rather be more productive to start changing what the everyday person deems beautiful than blaming the fashion industry?
Rachael's personal blog: threerights.wordpress.com