Last night the Harvard Business School held a panel on the prevention and treatment of eating disorders, a major source of debate within the fashion industry. The panel was lead by Michael Kors and Her Highness Anna (Wintour), who both expressed their stern disapproval of the condition of models on the catwalks.
According to the Boston Globe, Anna remarked that before all this debate, “the models were so frightened of recrimination and that they wouldn’t be booked for shoots or shows that they didn’t want to talk about what everybody knew was going on.”
But for Kors, age is as serious an issue, too. From now on, Kors will no longer work with models younger than 16. “I think super-young girls used to be the exception … There’s always been a Twiggy, or a model who is very young. But they were few and far between. Now, they’re completely common. That’s something I see as a huge problem.’’
And it’s a really big problem if you’ve been following the recent Terry Richardson “Before I could say ‘whoa, whoa, whoa!’ dude was wearing only his tattoos and waggling the biggest dick I’d ever seen dangerously close to my unclothed person” scandal.
I do think the industry should relax its standards and encourage healthier models. Gisele looks fabulous and eats steak. But France went so far as to propose placing a health label on any image that has been Photoshopped or retouched — like our Surgeon’s General warning on cigarettes.
But you know what? Of course the image has been retouched! The average person doesn’t have a team of photographers, make up artists, stylists, or wind machines to make them look fierce. If anything, the warning should say something like “Don’t Try This At Home.”
As I always say, we should not place the entire blame for eating disorders and body image issues on the fashion industry. Sure, we live in an image-economy, and images rule our daily experience. But we need to learn to take responsibility for our own health and body issues, and stop trying to kill ourselves to look like models.