Tuesday, 22 February 2011

What sort of message is the fashion world sending to our daughters?

Image source: Mirror.co.uk
There were several photos from the runway show for the Erdem label at London Fashion Week, mainly due to their use of this model.

I'm horrified at how thin and skeletal she is. Look at her sunken cheeks and eyes. Is that supposed to be attractive? Yet by using such a thin model, that is the message designers are sending to our children.

As the mother of two clothes-mad daughters I'm totally appalled at the insidious message they are receiving from some areas of the fashion world - that being unhealthily thin is desirable and fashionable.  Most girls could only achieve this look by developing an eating disorder (and ironically this week is also National Eating Disorders Awareness Week*) and most normal people don't look like this so it begs the question: why on earth does a designer include such a model in their show? And don't tell me the clothes look better on a skeletal model, because they don't.

I showed this photo to my two girls, separately so they couldn't hear what the other said, and asked them what they thought of the dress (without mentioning the model's thinness).  The Teenager said "She doesn't look normal, what's wrong with her?" Tall Daughter looked at it and asked "why has she been starved? What's wrong with her eyes? Why is she doing that when she's not well?"  Neither of them commented on the dress.

A few years ago there was a lot of discussion in the media when Madrid Fashion Week made the decision to use models with a healthy BMI (body mass index) of 18 and over. I had hoped that this would be adopted by the other big fashion shows but sadly this doesn't seem to have happened.

The Body Mass Index scale is used by the World Healthy Organisation (WHO) as a guideline for healthy height-to-weight ratios and is used to estimate the portion of fat in the body.  A healthy BMI is considered to be anything between 18 and 24, and the World Health Organisation considers anything below 18.5 to be underweight, yet the typical BMI for a runway model is 16.3.

This is all wrong.

I would be more inclined to buy from a designer who uses normal, healthy looking models. I'd be happier seeing more of the so-called plus-sized models in magazines fashion spreads and in TV adverts, and I'd like my daughters to learn from the media that being healthy is much more important than fitting into a size zero dress. Is that too much to ask for?

*Thanks to Rosie Scribble for this information and link.