Ten years ago, could you have imagined seeing a model who wasn’t young and stick-thin on the ramp? It was utterly impossible. However, the course of winds has changed and there is a positive change ushering into the Modeling Industry in terms of inclusivity. Models who were absolutely absent from the ramp until now are now being represented widely and this new kind of representation is being welcomed as a positive development.
With the advent of mass media, the fashion industry has gained immense popularity thereby becoming one of the most influential industries over the years. A problem arising out of the growing stature of the modelling industry is that people all around the world try to emulate the standards of the fashion world. It has the negative consequence of propagating the notion that the people who walk the ramp are “models” for others. They are to be imitated and idolized because they are what the “perfect people” should look like.
This is physically and mentally harmful not only for the people actively working in the Modeling Industry but also for the section of the population who feel the need to be like them in order to be accepted by the society. Apart from facing body image issue, many people have been driven to starvation, anorexia, depression, eating disorders and even suicide because of the need to conform to the image portrayed by mass media.
Much to everyone’s relief, the unpropitious affects of the Modeling Industry have finally been tackled by the government of various countries. One of the most constructive developments took place in France where the government imposed a ban on anorexic models.
France’s ban on anorexic models
As of now, models in France have to submit a BMI report to prove that they the adequate weight. Another significant headway has been the interdict on retouched photos. The psychological sequel that occurs when you are not happy with the way you look, forcing you to alter your looks digitally to appear “perfect”, has such substantial effects that the ban comes at a benign time to control further damage.
Marisol Touraine, the Minister of Social Affairs and Health in France, told the media, “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies lead to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behavior”.
Experts have called this a right move but a wrong approach. Some people in the Modeling Industry opine that this prohibition will indeed cause an unfairness of a different kind. What’s the possible reason behind such viewpoints? Let’s find it out.
Ban on anorexic models based on BMI not the right way forward?
Claire Mysko, Director of Programs for the US National Disorders Association, told VOA, “Body Mass Index cannot be the measure of one’s health. Just because someone is at a very low BMI doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder, and just because someone is the normal range or even in the high range of BMI doesn’t signify that they don’t have an eating disorder either”.
Albeit the objective behind the ban is being applauded, specialists are worried about how the screening process being embraced to select models, is not a holistic one. They suggested that a proper system that takes into account the attitudes of models toward food, weight and body is necessitated.
Katrina Mason, the policy director at Eating Disorders Coalition in Washington DC posted, “Measuring BMI isn’t necessarily a good factor in determining whether someone is or not having a disordered eating lifestyle I think there are other factors that should potentially be taken into consideration.”
Formed in 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of American, in its mission statement, took up the concerns of models who are underweight. It mentioned, “Eating disorders are emotional disorders that have psychological, behavioral, social and physical manifestations of which body weight is only one.”
It’s not just about the models
The prohibition in France Modeling Industry, does not only concern the health of models but also initiates a clampdown in the country where more than 40,000 of its population suffer from anorexia. The ban on retouched photos targets websites which falsely advertise thinness as the ideal notion of beauty thereby facilitating disordered eating.
While anorexia is an issue faced by both men and women, 95% of the patients have been women. As estimated by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 30 million people in the US out of which 20million are women will struggle with an eating disorder at some point of time in their lives.
An American model cum actress, Lyndsey Scott speaking on the ban initiated by France, commented, “I was an All-American 400m runner at 5-feet-9 and 108 pounds during college. Perfectly healthy, but still way under an 18 BMI. Bodies naturally come in all shapes and sizes. Even people with eating disorders can have a so-called healthy BMI. Perhaps they should have doctors check for signs of anorexia and bulimia instead of making assumptions on weight.”
However, with the new changes being launched in the Modeling Industry, more and more models are flouting the conventional rules and walking the most influential runways of the world.
The 69-year-old model Maye Musk slayed the ramp while walking for concept Korea at New York Fashion Week thereby breaking the conventional notion that beauty is defined by age. She was also featured on the cover of one of the most prestigious magazines in the world-CoverGirl.
When the Senior Vice-President of the magazine-Ukonwa Ojo was questioned about their decision to put Musk as their CoverGirl, he retaliated, “Mate Musk is not only a timeless beauty but a visionary who has always followed her own path, creating new opportunities for so many others who might not meet the industry standard of “model”, but are truly beautiful in every regard. This is exactly what CoverGirl is all about: owning your identity and proudly sharing with the world all the facets that make you, you. She is an affirmation of the power and importance of diversity and inclusivity in the world of beauty.”
Flaunting baby bump on the ramp
Pregnant celebrities walking the ramp is one of the latest trends. In the Modeling Industry renounced models like Miranda err, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Alridge, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shveta Salve set the ramp on fire while flaunting their baby bumps. A celebration of motherhood and maternity serves as a silver lining in an industry that has conventionally conformed to unreal ideals of beauty.
Models with prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs steal the show at LFW
London-based designers Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones featured amputee models at the Lakme Fashion Week that was held in the last month. We saw the models arriving on the ramp in wheelchairs.
Enrobed in a moss-colored ribbed dress, a model showed her prosthetic leg while another was draped in a blue silk gown. These women were the main focus point of the designer duo’s show titled, “The Body Part Two”.
The fashion industry is finally accepting the fact that age is just a number and that beauty has various parameters for judgment. It is not all about long legs, thigh gaps, cleavage and fair skin anymore. The Modeling Industry has finally initiated a process of inclusion and accommodation of standards which are set by real people for real people.”
-Prepared by Mohima Haque of NewsGram. Twitter: mohimahaque26