Finally, finally, we are beginning to see waves of change ripple through the fashion industry. It began with one. It is becoming many. This is how a movement starts.
Vogue editors from across the world came together last month to establish guidelines to address the problem of eating disorders, underage modeling, and general ill-health in the fashion industry. British Vogue’s June issue unveils an unprecedented Health Initiative, which aims to directly address unhealthy body image and eating behaviors amongst models.
The initiative, agreed upon by all 19 Vogue editors-in-chief, outlines a six point pledge:
1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image
2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns.
3. We will help to structure mentoring programmes where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative.
4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.
5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.
6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.
The points of the initiative closely align closely with the CFDA’s Health Guidelines, which include a minimum age requirement (16 years) and commitment to eating disorder preventative education. Vogue’s initiative, however, takes the CFDA’s efforts one step further by extending the guidelines to photoshoots as well as the runway.
Yes, the language is a little soft… The phrases “we encourage,” “we will ask,” and “in our view” are just a tad slippery, if you ask me. But you know what? It’s a start. It’s a big deal for the editors of arguably the highest-profile fashion magazine in the world to take a public stance against modeling standards that encourage eating disorders. And as far as I can tell, they did so without any mandate from outside regulation.
The one thing I was very disappointed to see completely glossed over in the initiative was the issue of photoshopping. As long as magazines like Vogue continue to airbrush those over-16, non-anorexic models… well, how much are you really doing to promote healthy and realistic body image among girls and women?
Perhaps a pledge to limit Photoshop, as Glamour and other magazines have made, will be next on Vogue‘s agenda?