Change on the Runway

Change on the Runway

Lauren Mokhtarzadeh

Staff Writer 

The world and its priorities are changing. Vanity is being put aside and an individual’s health is taking precedence. Many countries are constituting laws that demand a model to be in good health before he or she can be hired to walk the runway.

Throughout the years, conventional beauty standards have evolved, but still the world is telling women they need to look a specific way. When society illustrates the way women should look, many women feel compelled to follow that standard. These people often start  longing for a body like the model on the cover of Vogue Magazine, Sports Illustrated, or any fashion magazine with a half-clothed woman on the cover. Lots of time, money, and effort is spent on cultivating this fabricated image. Most of the time, that is not even enough. The image of the model becomes a social norm within society to both men and women. Seeing the “perfect” models with the “perfect” bodies on the front cover not only affects women of young age, but women of all ages, and has physical and psychological effects. The idea of looking like the model with the “perfect” body gets engraved in brains, and people can begin to desire only that.

Why do women feel that they must look a certain way?

Well, the way that the fashion industry portrays women is a start. Most models, but certainly not all, that fashion agencies hire, have flat stomachs, thigh gaps, lots of cleavage, and a firm butt. Not all models look like “the girl on the front cover”. Yes, some models have good family genes, found a combination of eating healthy and exercising regularly, or are just naturally thin, but most of the time, in order to look like the woman on the front cover or to fit in the sample size double-zero dress for fashion shows, models develop eating disorders. Why? Because people in the fashion industry tell them that they have to fit a certain size- a double-zero. At the end of the day that means that they have to do anything it takes to fit into that dress, and achieving that goal can be met with anorexia or bulimia, which are fatal eating disorders.

But when is enough, enough? How far do we we need to go for society to see that inside, that model on the front page or strutting the catwalk might actually be craving a hamburger with fries- but lives in a world that tells her the only way is for her to be successful is to throw it up afterwards? How many young girls have to continue damaging their body because they aspire to achieve the “perfect” body like a model on the catwalk, in a movie, or on a magazine?

Who is stopping this atrocity? This past December, France took a step forward to kick any issues regarding eating disorders out of the fashion industry. France now requires models to present an up-to-date doctors note to the modeling agency saying that he or she is within the healthy BMI range with respect to weight and height ratio, in order to be hired for a modeling job. The law states that if a fashion agency is found using models that are under a BMI of 18 with regard to one’s weight and height, the agency could face six months of jail time and a fine of about $82,000. Another addition in the law is that if a commercial photograph is photoshopped, the photo must be labeled “retouched photograph”. France now stands with Spain, Italy, and Israel to get rid of eating disorders within the fashion industry. The problem of models being unhealthy became apparent to Israel when famous Israeli model, Hila Elmaliah, died in 2007 due to being anorexic. She weighed 60 pounds. Israel then passed laws, referred to as the Photoshop laws, in 2012. These laws state that models have to provide medical proof that they are a healthy height-to-weight ratio. While this law is general, it is mainly aimed towards female models. Although this law may not solve all the issues concerning eating disorders within the modeling industry, it is a step towards fighting the problem.

Today, many companies are providing clothing lines and recognition for and of all body types. Companies like Target, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, JC Penny, Modcloth, and more are creating clothing lines with consideration of all sizes. These brands are now illustrating not only one specific body type, but a multitude of them: a size 2 to a size 16, and everything in between. Sports Illustrated is also taking a step in the right direction by featuring the first ever size 16 model on the cover of their annual swimsuit issue. The model that is making and changing history on the subject of body image is Ashley Graham. The recognition of all body types is also being presented by Barbie, a doll company for young children. Barbie is now changing its vision of unrealistic bodies into a more clear-sighted view. This will help the way young girls look at and appreciate their bodies.

As a result of the diverging body types being acknowledged, society is slowly changing. The overall idea of one’s health is becoming more crucial than fitting into a pair of double-zero jeans designed for the runway.