I read, and much enjoyed, The Times' article "Vogue editor launches new war on size-zero fashion". Now, I'm not going to hold my breath that this will change the fashion industry. After all, a few years ago, Spain declared that models had to maintain a certain weight and we saw that edict has stayed fairly stagnant with the rest of the fashion world. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to see someone at least declare it to be a problem.
I don't have, and I doubt editor Alexandra Shulman has, a vendetta against thin females. I, as many of you can relate, have friends that eat without thinking about their weight because they always stay slender. When I worked at a clothing store, I remember a woman who came in and when the smallest pants size was still swimming on her, her eyes filled with tears because being thin, she could never find anything that fit. I remember years ago when my cousin had the nerve to tell me -- at that point, immersed in my bulimia -- that she was too thin and try as she might, she couldn't gain a pound. No, I don't despise thin people or even naturally thin models. I am, however, disgusted with the promotion of eating disorders.
Please answer a couple questions for me:
- Do you remember the last time you looked at a fashion magazine?
- After you looked at the magazine, did you feel any better about yourself?
Most people I know say, "You know what -- I guess I felt worse. I felt inadequate, I wanted more, I wanted to be more, I wanted to be less... I wanted to be different than I was." It's completely understandable; that's often the reality of fashion and advertisement; it taunts: "You're not enough as is; get more! Be more! Do more!" Is it any wonder than we oftentimes feel inadequate?
So how does this relate to the magazines? Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, W, and others that place an astounding emphasis on thinness do a disservice to people who look at them. They promote unhealthy women at the expense of selling more magazines.
There are two reasons why I find myself so disgusted with these magazines' continual pandering to severe thinness in an effort to sell their products. One is from my own personal experience -- my eating disorder was spurred in part by my desire to be as thin as the females I saw in magazines. The other is further reaching and much more crucial: Therapists report more deaths from patients with eating disorders than any other psychological disorder.
Think about that for a second. No other disorder -- be it schizophrenia, dissociative personality, bipolar disorder, etc. -- kills as many people as eating disorders do. It's not just a vanity disease that women develop in their teenage years and grow out of a few years later. It is a deadly epidemic. And that is why promoting this culture, promoting eating disordered women and men for the sake of earning a dollar is so reprehensible.
And that is why when people like Alexandra stand up and speak out, I happily stand up with them.
Won't you too?