The fashion world mourns another loss. Another loss that could have been prevented. Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston, died on November 14 from an infection caused by anorexia. She was 5'8" and weighed 88 lbs. Her body-mass-index was 13.5. (According to the WHO, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 and a BMI of 15 is defined as starvation). According to her friends she was only allowing herself to eat tomatoes and apples. She was the second fashion model to die this year of anorexia. Model Luisel Ramos, 22, died in August of a heart attack after apparently living on lettuce leaves and Diet Coke for three months.
Ok, honestly I thought that anorexia in the fashion industry was not as prevalent as yesteryear but obviously I am wrong. I remember in the '90s when the waif heroin chic look was in and Kate Moss was literally skin and bones and modeling for all the top designers. But that was then. I actually think Kate Moss has put on weight and looks healthy. I also feel that when one browses through the ads today you find healthy women. Slim for sure but not super-skinny/sick-looking skinny.
Take Dolce & Gabanna for example, their recent ad where model Crystal Renn is posing seductively clad in nothing but a leopard bustier. The first thing I noticed was that she was not skinny. She was still beautiful (and sexy) though and she still translated the brand image quite well.
Another example was Jean Paul Gaultier's spring 2007 runway show where he cast a plus size model in his show. Her size 20 frame pranced proudly down that runway. JPG certainly wanted to make his statement known. That skinny is not necessarily the norm anymore.
And what about the recent ban in Spain on overly thin models where Madrid's fashion week turned away underweight models. This descison came about after protests that girls were trying to copy the models’ rail-thin looks and in turn developing eating disorders.
I think that the industry has come a long way since the proverbial '90s but obviously it seems it has not come far enough. I don't think that in 2006, we should be loosing models to anorexia, bulimia or any other eating disorder.
Why is this still happening, and what should the industry do about it? Well, I do see a shift. I do see a change. Subtle maybe but I do see changes happening.
Perhaps, what Crystal Renn said on Oprah is the most intelligent thing I have heard so far. "I almost think that they should just have all different types of women. They should have petite women, they should have thin women, they should have curvy women. So if I'm a young girl looking up at the runway, then I'm like, 'Well, my body type's up there and I'm fine.'". I think if that were to happen there will be less distorted perceptions, more positive attitudes and no models dying from anorexia.