September 13th, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

Non-Fashion-Week Fashion Week News

I read in the news that the biggest buzz in the fashion industry isn't about anything that's happening this week in New York for the prestigious "Fashion Week" series of big annual fashion shows. The real buzz is about something that happened at a tiny regional fashion show in Spain: Last week the government office that sponsors the show set a flat rule: no model with a Body Mass Index (BMI) lower than 18 may model on our catwalk. ("Models flunk BMI, get Spain fashion boot," Daniel Woolls for the Associated Press, September 8th, 2006.)

So when the show opened this week, several models who showed up for various fashion designers were sent home, refused permission to work. How many? Try thirty percent of them. The next day Cathy Gould, the North American director of the Elite modeling agency put out a statement that really does a better job of proving her opponents' point than her own. According to Reuters reporter Andrew Hay:
"I think its outrageous, I understand they want to set this tone of healthy beautiful women, but what about discrimination against the model and what about the freedom of the designer," said Gould, Elite's North America director, adding that the move could harm careers of naturally "gazelle-like" models. ("Skinny models wearing thin in fashion shocker," September 12th, 2006.)
Let's talk about naturally gazelle-like models, shall we? I found a list of famous fashion models' heights, weights, and BMIs. Teri Hatcher has a BMI of 18. But get this. The poster child for cocaine-powered anorexia, Kate Moss, has a BMI of 16.8. But at her height, what would it take for Kate Moss to qualify to walk on that catwalk? A gain of seven pounds. Somehow, I don't find the argument that Kate Moss is at least seven pounds too skinny to look like a healthy human being to be all that oppressive.

The fashion industry and its models claims that they're not responsible for eating disorders is starting to sound as petulant, hollow, and dishonest as the cigarette companies' former claims that nicotine wasn't addictive and that cigarette smoking didn't cause lung cancer. The average woman goes on her first diet at the age of 11, according to the last survey I saw, almost always because of an unkind remark by an older female relative of hers, comparing her unfavorably to these drug-fueled eating disorder victims who are trying to pass themselves off as natural genetic freaks. Because the average "diet" is flatly unsustainable and wreaks serious metabolic havoc, the average diet causes a life-long permanent weight gain of about 8 pounds. Because of the pressures put on her to keep trying, the average woman (and, increasingly, man) keeps dieting despite all evidence that diets don't work, gaining a steady 8 pounds per diet. The results can be seen on every street in the world, now, not just in America.