This week on the TV show, The Price of Beauty, Jessica Simpson and her friends jetted off to Paris to continue their quest to find the price men and women pay for beauty.
The "beauty ambassador" this week was a runway and commercial model who began her career at the age of thirteen. She discussed the scary and dangerous part of the fashion world -- the enormous pressure to be thin. The modeling agency weighed and took her measurements daily. Any change in her body could have resulted in instantly being fired.
The beauty ambassador introduced Simpson to Isabelle Caro, a model struggling with anorexia, to hear her story. Isabella is well known for posing nude in an ad campaign for anorexia awareness.
How did the anorexia start? During her modeling career, a fashion designer told her that she had to lose weight. She ended up at 55 lbs. At one point, a doctor felt Isabelle had no hope of surviving. She is still shockingly thin and appears to be working through recovery. Thankfully, she did survive.
"Did anyone want to help you?" they asked. Unfortunately, no one reached out to help Isabelle or worried about her frighteningly thin frame. The story shows the altered perception of health and beauty in the fashion industry. The fact that anyone would feel such pressure to feel skinny brought Jessica to tears. She herself has been told that she is "fat" repeatedly in the media.
There is likely so much more to Isabelle's story. Anorexia is such a complex disease that is caused by biological, social and psychological factors. For someone who is vulnerable to the disease, being in the fashion world would be a significant trigger and a deadly environment. Not everyone who feels pressure to be thin develops anorexia.
Is France worried about the impact of the ultra thin woman in fashion? It seems that some effort is being made to change this image. For example, there has been some discussion about placing a warning label on airbrushed photos to allow people to know that the image is not 100% real. There has been some discussion in the French fashion industry to join Spain who created minimum healthy weights for their models.
Hopefully, Jessica's show revisits the issue of eating disorders. There is so much more to say in regards to the impact of extreme thinness in a culture on women's view of their bodies. Obviously, it's not just French women in the modeling world who feel this pressure.
Jessica thanked the model for her powerful words and for sharing her story. The lesson Jessica said is: "The skinnier you are doesn't make you more beautiful." Unfortunately, too many of us believe just the opposite.
The show finished up with Jessica walking the runway and a photo shoot of the everyday French woman of many shapes and sizes. The first plus size model in Paris shared her ultimate beauty secret: what makes a woman beautiful is confidence. So true.
Next week, they head off to India...See Jessica Simpson discussing her show on Oprah:
For more information on anorexia and eating disorders:
By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of the new book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully,
Follow Dr. Susan Albers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrSusanAlbers