How the Fashion Industry’s Demand for Skinny Models Leads to Anorexia

Model posing for a shoot

French model Victoire Macon Dauxerre was at the peak of her career when she almost gave up. The 5’10’’ brunette was a size 8, with hips measuring 92 centimeters, when her agent told her that she should lose more weight. So, she took a drastic measure to become even slimmer — she ate only three apples a day.

Dauxerre was able to meet her agent’s demands and her career soared, working with some of the most famous fashion designers in the world. But deep down, she felt nothing but loneliness and resentment. The model suffered from anorexia and depression.

Fortunately, the French model managed to steer her life around. These days, she is busy promoting her book, which details her life as a model. She is also advocating for the fashion industry to change its “rules.”

Efforts to Change the Fashion Industry’s Ways

Dauxerre is not the only person fighting to save other models from developing eating disorders to satisfy the demands of the fashion industry. Sara Ziff, a former runway model and Harvard graduate, founded Model Alliance, a non-profit research organization designed to protect models from harmful fashion industry policies.

Ziff and her colleagues investigated the industry’s unwritten policy of forcing models to lose weight and stay thin. They discovered that several professional models developed eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Almost every one of these models said that they were told to lose weight if they wanted to continue to work as models.

What is even more troubling is that most of these models were already underweight, but they still abided by their agents’ demands in exchange for the assurance of continuous employment. Ziff and her colleagues released their report and sought to force the fashion industry to change its ways.

The Fashion Industry’s Response

Anorexic, young man measuring himself

Now, the fashion industry is realizing its mistake. Several key people are making changes to the way they handle professional models. In France, the government adopted a bill that sought to protect professional models by requiring them to maintain a healthy weight depending on their height, body type, and age.

The bill states that a professional model will only be allowed to work if her doctor has certified that she is in good health. It may seem that the pressure is on the models to change, but the bill also states that any employer who hires a model without the proper medical certificate will pay a fine of $81,000 and face prison time.

Other countries who already adopted a similar bill are Israel, Spain, and Italy. These three countries were ahead of France in establishing a law that protects professional models from unhealthy practices brought about by the fashion industry.

Hopefully in the near future, more countries join in to protect models from developing eating disorders and other unhealthy practices just to appease key people in the fashion industry. It would be a shame if there were more people undergoing eating disorder treatment in Westport or any other place than healthy individuals.

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