The Fashion Show season is in full swing, from New York to Milan and Paris.
And recently there has been a great deal of controversy about the new rules enacted by the fashion companies of LVMH and Kering. Between the two, they own multiple luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Céline, Gucci, and Saint Laurent, and they have joined forces on a charter meant to protect the well-being of models both on and off the catwalk.
Among the charter’s key guidelines which address the companies’ concerns are the following:
- Associated brands are banned from using female models who are French size 32 (US size 0, or UK size 4), and men who are French size 42. Models must be at least a size 34 or 44, respectively.
- Associated brands are only permitted to work with models who have received a valid medical certificate from their agencies within the past six months, affirming that they are in good health and able to work.
Many are applauding this decision, and I have been asked by several of my clients how I feel about this.
From a personal standpoint, because I am so concerned about the health and well-being of the model who starves herself to work, I am ecstatic about these changes. But I also acknowledge the outcry from models who are deeply offended by this, claiming that they will lose work because of their inability to affect their weight or to control their thinness.
They believe that their weight is being discriminated against.
Actress and model Jaime King says, “I think it would be radically unfair to say if you’re a size zero, then you can’t work, just like it’s unfair to say that if you’re a size 16, you can’t work.” And she does, indeed, have a point.
However, the problem (as I see it) is that larger models have only ‘come into fashion’ within the last few years. Skinny, waif-like models have been around for much longer, and I fully believe that the modeling industry has contributed to disordered eating and disempowering women.
Thin models are glorified.
If you care to disagree, please do some research on Photoshopping in the media. So many women in the ‘real world’ – as opposed to portraying characters on camera – are struggling to lose weight and comparing themselves to models and actresses who are paid to be thin. When this level of thinness is perpetuated as normal and desirable, the result is a clearly detrimental effect on women’s self-esteem and self-worth.
And it’s not only these women who suffer the negative effects of such an industry, but the models themselves. They are regularly mistreated by the companies they audition and work for, and are generally objectified as sex objects and selling points.
The issue at hand is delicate and complex, with no incontrovertible right or wrong side.
Precisely because it is so involved, it is thus a powerful and important conversation to have – especially with other women. My personal feeling is that, while I do not want to take work away from any woman, I do have some judgments about the high salaries that supermodels receive for simply looking a certain way.
And while I am pleased to see larger models such as Ashley Graham gaining popularity, they are still part of an industry that celebrates outward beauty as the standard that so many women are trying to live up to and never will.
Instead of a ban which focuses on exclusion, how about an environment of inclusion?
If the runway were to be populated with (healthy) models of all types ranging from super-slender to extra-curvy, just as we see in day-to-day life, then there will be room for every-body.
And when there is room for body diversity, society as a whole will be better off as we base a person’s worth and value on their character…rather than the number on the scale.
What’s your stance on the new modeling charter?
How do you train yourself to not compare yourself to other women?
I welcome your comments below.
Laura Fenamore, Body Image Expert, Coach and acclaimed Author is on a mission to help women around the world end the constant battle with their bodies and start adoring who they see in the mirror. Her approach walks students and readers through the heartfelt journey to self-love at any size or age by unlocking the secrets to a lifetime of emotional, physical and spiritual health. After overcoming a lifelong battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released 100 pounds – keeping it off for more than 28 years. She chronicles this journey to self-love and health in her widely acclaimed book, Skinny, Fat, Perfect: Love Who You See in the Mirror. Learn more about Laura’s programs, or invite her to speak by visiting SkinnyFatPertect.com.
Image courtesy of AhmadArdity.