Fashion Week designers tried something new this year: models were up to sizes 2 and 4 – not 0. Yes, we know that’s not a huge stride, but it’s a small relief to those who have brought attention to the cause of eating disorders in the fashion world. But some critics argue the industry can do more because they still let skinny minnies rule the runways.
The question of how thin is too thin has been tossed around since Kate Moss made her modeling debut 20 years ago, ushering in an era of "heroin chic." In 2006, at least two models died from complications linked to eating disorders. This prompted a movement in Europe to try to ban skinny models from the runway. London even attempt to require medical exams for models but dropped the plan because of a lack of international support.
Stateside the moves were not so bold. The Council of Fashion Designers of America held workshops on eating disorders and recommended that designers keep models under 16 off the runway, offer healthier snacks backstage and require those identified as having an eating disorder to seek professional help if they want to continue modeling. The efforts have proven insufficient because eating disorders and drug use to keep the weight down continues to be pervasive problems amongst models.
The question isn't just about model health; it's about who will win the hearts and impressionable minds of the teenagers and young girls who look up to them.
It’s true that models have largely disappeared from the covers of magazines, replaced by celebrities who generate their own is-she-too-thin headlines. And young girls can now see more realistic shapes on television, from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty to the plus-size winner on "America's Next Top Model." But that doesn't mean models aren't influencing girls and women. One needs to simply google "Thinspiration" to find a seemingly endless list of pro-anorexia videos as proof.
So, yes, this year’s designers have taken a step in the right direction, but the reality remains that the fashion industry has undoubtedly have a long way to go.