home
RSS
Fashion Week starts with updated health guidelines for models
February 9th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Fashion Week starts with updated health guidelines for models

New York Fashion Week starts Thursday, and there will be more on display than new fabrics and color combinations.

The runway shows will be the first to take place under an updated set of health initiatives for models, which was released last month by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

The guidelines attempt to address the “overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin, and whether or not to impose restrictions in such cases.”

The new guidelines say models should be at least 16 years old to participate in a show. It also encourages greater awareness of the risks and signs of eating disorders. Backstage at the fashion shows should be tobacco-free and also address underage drinking by prohibiting alcohol, according to the guidelines.

Models who may have an eating disorder should seek professional help and should not continue modeling unless they have a professional’s approval, according to health initiative.

“Designers share a responsibility to protect women, and very young girls in particular, within the business, sending the message that beauty is health,” according to a statement signed by CFDA’s Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb.

The health initiative also urges more education about the warning signs of eating disorders - workshops for the industry on how the disorders arise and treatment. It will not be policing different runway shows; the purpose is to bring “awareness, education, and safety,” according to the statement.

The council’s guidelines also say that nutrition and fitness education should be provided, and that healthy meals, snacks, and water should be available backstage and at shoots.

The National Eating Disorders Association commended the council for taking the models’ health into consideration, but it says the measures don’t go far enough.

“Although these guidelines are good ‘suggestions,’ no real health protections exist in this industry for those under 18. That is particularly worrisome in an industry that is not only known for extreme thinness – in fact, it’s practically required – putting its models at dramatically increased risk of developing an illness that has the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness,” said Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association.

The fashion industry has been under criticism for perpetuating impossible standards of female beauty.

Isabelle Caro, a former fashion model who posed in a provocative ad campaigning against anorexia died in November 2010 after a long battle with the eating disorder.  In 2007, an Israeli model, Hila Elmalich died weighing less than 66 pounds.


soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Panda1895

    I'm sick of all the skinny girl bashing. Yes, anorexia is a problem, but not all thin women have an eating disorder.

    I'm 5'11" and 135lbs. I eat a lot, I work out occasionally, but I really just come from a long line of tall, lanky men and women. I don't control what I eat to stay thin (fat-free and low-fat stuff is gross) – I eat what tastes good and makes me happy. A few years ago, I underwent surgery, and before the operation, the surgeon wanted me to gain 10 lbs. I stuffed my face for a month and only gained 5.

    There are plenty of men who find me an attractive woman, so generalizing that men don't want skinny women is ridiculous. I think it's more attractive for a woman to be a healthy weight for herself. If you are constantly trying to change your weight, it's a sign that you are not comfortable with yourself and there might be other issues that a potential partner would not want to deal with. People come in all shapes and sizes – if you are healthy and comfortable with yourself, it's far more attractive than what pant size you wear.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rick mendl

      I am learning how to get to a healthy weight with Weigh Down Basics class. see men share their weight loss stories at

      http://www.remnantfellowship.tv

      today at 11 am CST

      February 9, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • Valentijn

      Congratulations, you're in the "Healthy" range of the BMI chart, albeit the lower end of it. But this article is about girls who'd feel (and be treated) like they were porkers if they were your weight and height.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • KimM

      @Panda1895 – I understand that your weight is mostly genetics and that no one can pick who their parents are, but the fact that the surgeon wanted you to gain weight for the surgery tells me that you are not at a healthy weight. It's the same as if the surgeon wanted a person to lose weight for a surgery. It means they are not healthy enough for the procedure. I'm only pointing this out to show people that being too thin is just as unhealthy as being too heavy. They both result in serious health issues and it goes beyond what people perceive as looking good. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • Panda1895

      @KimM The surgery was a few years ago, I was slightly shorter and weighed less at the time – I was having jaw surgery and was going to be on a liquid diet for 2 months while my mouth was wired shut. He was worried about the inevitable weight loss, not that I wasn't healthy to begin with. I really did try to gain 10 lbs (about doubled my food intake and stopped working out at all), but hardly any of it stuck. At the last meeting right before the surgery, when I told him I only gained 5, he agreed to do the surgery anyway. In the end, I ended up only losing the 5 pounds I had gained and 3 extra. Once I started eating solid food again, I added back the 3 pounds and returned to my normal weight.

      I was trying to make the point that a lot of posters on the first page missed. There was a lot of generalized "skinny girls are unhealthy" and "skinny girls are unattractive comments". TOO skinny and TOO fat are unattractive. But just because someone is skinny does not mean they are unattractive or that they have an eating disorder.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • chicago7

      Plenty of people just have very fast metabolisms and remain quite slender, even thin, despite eating the entire grocery store. The target of the concern, however, is anorexia, not general thinness. Young women dying at 66 lbs because they cannot mentally bring themselves to eat at all is the problem, and that is fueled by the fashion and entertainment industries who define beauty and acceptability by an ever-increasingly dangerous standard of underweight. Young girls are especially vulnerable. No one should cloud the real problem with a beside-the-point argument over inability to get fat. Someone else here said accurately that, at your height, your weight would quite likely be considered too heavy to be a model. Insane. Truly insane,

      February 9, 2012 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      Panda, I think you may be misreading intent on some posters use of "skinny". I don't see anyone bashing a thin girl per se. They all seem to be saying "skinny" but they mean skeletal.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
    • Panda1895

      @chicago7

      As I said, my original comment was a response to the people on the first page who were bashing all skinny people and saying you can't be healthy/attractive unless you are a size 12-14. I didn't realize I would be bumped to the top of the second page thereby making my comment look out of place. Yes, anorexia is a problem among models. However, the running commentary bashing skinny people (and fat people as well) is as out of place as you say my comment is.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
    • Panda1895

      I tried to go back through and quote some examples of what I was responding to, but I think CNN moderators are deleting comments. I can see the responses to some of the comments that were there this morning but not the original posts. Therefore, I look more like an off-topic troll than I did this morning.

      I am glad they are trying to help the models to be healthier. I don't think clothes designers are going to change what they demand from their models though. Models are simply clothes hangers. You aren't going to a fashion show to see the models, you go to see the clothes, and fabric hangs differently off of the rail-thin than it does an average woman.

      February 9, 2012 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
    • missp83

      If you were a model, your agency would be telling you to lose at least 15 lbs. Do you think that is healthy? They would actually call you fat even though you are 5'11" and only weigh 135 lbs. Does the widest part of your hips measure over 34 inches? If it does, you would get no work and be called FAT. Don't you think we should put a stop to this?

      February 9, 2012 at 20:53 | Report abuse |
    • E

      You do realize that you are too fat to be a model don't you? It isn't thin bashing,models are skeletal when you see them in person, they are your height and 20 pounds lighter.

      February 9, 2012 at 22:08 | Report abuse |
  2. Ronald Hussein Reagan

    Just got back from Jamaica, W.I. Has anyone noticed the models they use on the Wray and Nephew rum posters? I'll tell you – on a cold night you want a woman with something to cozy up to.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. KimM

    You guys who think a size 12 -14 is fat, don't know what a size 12 -14 looks like. People hear celebrities brag about being a size 0 or size 2 and they think that is normal. My 11 year old daughter wears a size 3 and she is not the least bit overweight. That's who a size 3 should fit, not an adult woman. Celebrities tend to be smaller than most because the camera adds 20 – 30 pounds to a person. A size 12 -14 is a normal healthy size for most women, unless she is about 5 ft. or shorter. I've seen tall women (5' 8" and up) who weigh 180 – 200 lbs. and are slender. If those same women weighed 115 lbs they would be unhealthy. The recommended body fat range for adult women under age 40 is between 21 – 30 % and for men it's 8 – 19 %. In short, what you see on TV is NOT reality.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Panda1895

      I'm not trying to discredit your argument in any way, I just wanted to point out that you can't really compare junior sizes to women's sizes. Junior sizes are odd numbers and are constructed for bodies that haven't finished filling out yet. Women's sizes are even numbers and have more curves in their construction. I wear a 2-4 women's size and I can't get a size 3 junior's pant up past my thighs. The two size lines aren't compatible.

      I fully agree that celebrity sizes shouldn't be taken as the norm. They have personal trainers to make them look that way.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse |
    • czerendipity

      I'm sorry, you sound like you are in denial. Size 12-14 is NOT healthy.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • Sydney

      Size is meaningless as a definition for weight, and certainly in relation to determining healthy weight.

      A size 12 means vastly different actual clothing dimensions from one manufacturer to another, one store than another, one fabric to another.

      Sizing has also super-sized over the years. A size 8 on average now is about what would have been labeled a 14 in the 1970's.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
    • Maelius

      "I've seen tall women (5' 8" and up) who weigh 180 – 200 lbs. and are slender."

      I find it hard to believe that someone who is 5'8" and 180-200 pounds being slender. Seeing as I'm 6ft 185 pounds and very muscular. 180@ 5'8" is well into the overweight category and 200@ 5'8" pounds is already in the obese category. I suppose you could call that slender if you compare it to the morbidly obese epidemic plaguing this nation.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • Miss Such-and-Such

      A size 3 is a perfect fit for an adult woman who is 5'2". I realize that tall women are always self-conscious about their height, but you really should try not to be so outright nasty about it.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Abby

      I'm 28, 5'8", 115 pounds, and I wear a size 4. I don't diet, I don't exercise to extremes. I eat more than my husband. My sister is the same way, even after having 2 kids. Some women are just naturally thin due to their genetics and metabolism, it doesn't mean they are unhealthy or starving themselves.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      I call BullZHIT! As a 5'10" 140 lbs relatively muscular female, NO WAY IS 180-200 pounds HEALTHY ON A WOMAN! Hahahahaaaaaaaaaa! I'm dying here LAUGHING! Maybe a MAN, but NOT a WOMAN!

      February 9, 2012 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      and to ms such and such.............believe me, tall women LOVE being all legs and men love it too............so sit down, no one is noticing 5'2"...........

      February 9, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      Kim, according to the BMI chart a female who is 5' 10" and 180 is in the overweight category. Same height at 173 pounds is the line between healthy and overweight. So if a woman is really tall and about 170 pounds I'd call them in the healthy range. 180-200 is bit of a stretch.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Size truly means little. They've been fooling with sizes recently to make women think they are smaller when they haven't changed at all. People who used to be a six (and proud of it) are now wearing a size 2. It's ridiculous. When I was a teenager, I wore a 10. Today I wear a 6 and there is NO way I can fit into my high school clothes. I was a smaller person then. Also, a size six in one brand isn't necessarily the same size in another brand – could be bigger or smaller.

      February 9, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
  4. Francine

    For the "there's nothing wrong with being thin" posters – I am not sure how you missed the point of the article to the extent that you see anyone who agrees with it as someone who "must be fat". A healthy BMI is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9. The average runway model – the subject of the article – is 5'9" and weighs around 110 pounds – a BMI of only 16.2 (that's average – some are much, much thinner).

    The industry has experienced several deaths over the past few years due to anorexia/bulimia, which has been pushed and promoted by the industry through drastic weight and size requirements (how many women, on average, do you believe can honestly fit into a size 0 at that height, naturally?). It's been well known for years and openly talked about by some very famous models. To agree with the fact that the fashion industry needs to promote healthier images does not mean you think slender, healthy people are unattractive, nor does it mean the person agreeing "must be fat". And before anyone says it – I'm 5'8" and weigh 130-lbs., but the truth is, I suffered from a severe eating disorder throughout my 20s and 30s due to the business I was in, and at one point weighed less than 100-lbs. I guarantee you, there was nothing healthy about it.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      Every year in the US tens of thousands of people die from health related complications from being overweight or obese. "Several" models have died from being too thin. Sounds like you and most of the rest of the US are confused about where the problem is and the extent of that problem. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. It probably makes all the wheatbellies feel better about themselves to focus on a few models, but the problem is really that Americans need to get off the sugar and the vegetable oils, and get back to eating well and a healthy weight. Humans evolved to eat meat and vegetables, with the rare serving of berries, fruit, nuts, and milk. Quit kidding yourselves about "healthy" carbs. Carbs are sugar.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • Miss Such-and-Such

      There are a lot of comments on here bashing women who don't allow themselves to be fat, and who don't wear sizes in the double digits. I think that's where the "you must be fat" comments come in.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Francine

      Robert – this article isn't about obesity. I'm not a bit confused. I was commenting on this article.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
  5. KimM

    @czerendipity – and as I stated previously, you don't know what a size 12 – 14 looks like. I size 12 -14 woman could tell you she was a size 4 and you would be none the wiser.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peanut M&M

      Exactly–so why do you say in your previous post that women who wear a 0-2 are too thin? Dress sizes are very subjective and have little to do with actual weight, just where the weight is on the body. The slip I wore underneath my size four wedding gown was a 12 or a 14. It made no sense.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
  6. Hoodie

    So, the cigarette and heroin diet is not recomended by healthcare professionals. Who'da thought.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. LRogers

    Size 12 – 14 is healthy. I am 5' 9" and weigh 176 lbs. I am between sizes..... 12 – 14 depending on how the clothes are made and that is my healthy weight...... and when people guess my weight they allways guess 130 – 140.......If I was a size I would be dead........

    February 9, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Miss Such-and-Such

      ur fat

      February 9, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • Maelius

      That is well into the overweight category unless you are a professional body builder.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • tallandthinnish

      such and such- you must be short- its probably hard to picture 176 on 5'9", but it really is not "fat" at all. I am 5'7" and 145 and I always wear size 4 and 6, depending on the brand. 176 on a 5'9" female is probably not a "thin" weight, but its definitely not fat. The taller you are, the better you carry weight- you can't argue that.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
  8. Sy2502

    Fashion designers are gay guys who want their models to look like young men. They simply are incapable of appreciating feminine curves. Didn't Karl Lagerfeld recently bash Adele for being too fat? These guys simply have no idea of what a heterosexual man appreciates in a woman.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Ally

    I'm really surprised that there have been so many posts talking about "what size is a healthy size to wear" but noone has mentioned that sizes vary widely across brands.

    I have pants/jeans that I currently fit into that range in size from 6 – 14.

    You can't judge based on the size you wear. You just need to focus on health.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Miss Such-and-Such

    Trust me, men do not prefer fat women. That is a myth perpetuated by the cow crowd.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Karl

    Wake up all of you that think the fashions model wear are created for men. They are for women and are designed to look good on thin women. If you put the fashion in the picture on a heavy woman, you would see the layers of flab on her sides and think how silly a woman would look in that. Why are guidelines needed? Are you telling me that models don't understand the risks in being so thin? They do this so they get the jobs because this is what fashion designers are looking for. Telling them they should gain weight will only shorten their careers. By the way, I am attracted to women of all sizes, with the exception of morbidly skinny or fat women.

    February 9, 2012 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ally

      I agree with you, Karl. I think the guidelines are more for the designers than the models. The models are developing these eating disorders because they need to work, not because they want to starve themselves. Designers want thin models because it's easier to make a garment look nice on someone thin. I just think they've gone a bit overboard. Thin is beautiful. Skeletal is not.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
  12. r

    "Guidelines"? This is ridiculous. And I am sick and tired of the double standard that exists that whenever someone is called "fat" people bust a blood vessel. Fat is fat.

    February 9, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Boo

    Read the last paragraph of this article....'nuff said. The fashion industry and people like Karl Lagerfeld (who just made headlines when he said the singer Adele is fat) get full blame for this. I'm convinced that Lagerfeld and other designers are closet misogynists......and you'll notice most clothing designers are not thin and anorexic. Some are overweight. Lagerfeld, himself, used to be fat.

    February 9, 2012 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. KITTY

    I had in interview with southwest airlines – they required that height and weight were within guidelines. I was 5"0 and should weigh 100-105 pounds. I was going to be a ticket agent behind the counter only. When I arrived for the interview they told me if height/weight does not match up there would be no interview. I was confident there was no problem I was a perfect size 5 and that morning my weight was 105 perfect! Well they put me on the scale and it said 106. The pleasently plump lady said "your off by a pound thanks bye bye" I then beg for the interview and explained it must be water weight I had dry mouth from being nervous and drank some water. Her reply was "well lose the weight and reapply if you want the job" 1 pound really?????? Well after crying my eyes out my wonderful husband took me out to eat lunch and I have never felt better and will never fly southwest ever! This is why women have body issues.

    February 9, 2012 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Maelius

      She was probably jealous of your weight.

      February 9, 2012 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      That sounds like an urban myth to me. If true it would be an easy lawsuit.

      February 9, 2012 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
  15. any

    However, we discovered Kim Kardashian secret! – she using Fullstoppain Magnetic anticellulite sweat suit !!

    February 9, 2012 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Katie

    It's about time they set some healthy standards for models. It's bad enough they use underweight, six foot tall girls (not women) and that they alter the clothes with pins and tape and padding to get the look they want to project, but the way they've encouraged these girls to stay emaciated is appalling. I know two girls who went into modeling – both were told immediately to lose weight and both of them ended up with bulemia which they struggle with years after their short-lived modeling career.

    February 9, 2012 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. jj

    About time healthy women were thought beautiful. Look at Beyonce, for one.

    February 9, 2012 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Tera

    I am really quite saddened by the remarks on this site. Clearly you cannot speak for everyone hen it comes to whether men like or do not like skinny or fat...in actuallity studies have shon that skinny people are mostly the unhealthy ones...do your research before you open your mouths you make yourselves look so ignorant. I work in the medical industry and see more "skinny" people with high blood pressure and other factors that make them 10 times more unhealthy than the say 12-14 size. Why don't we all just worry about ourselves instead of voice opinions not based on fact...pathetic really, you could be exercising instead of sitting on your butt here...

    February 9, 2012 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Tera

    To all those spell checkers out there...shown

    February 9, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Nelo

    No smoking... considering that almost all models smoke I would hate to see the temper of these girls backstage.

    February 10, 2012 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. EEEEEWWWWWWW

    EEEEEEEWWWWWWW

    February 10, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Annaliesa

    I am glad the industry is recognizing there's a problem, but a part of me wonders if they're just paying lip service. So they're serving healthy food and blasting their employees with PA ads? Don't know how effective that will be. I have empathy to the women who model. Making a living off of what people think of you is outright painful.

    I dealt with eating disorder symptoms on again, off again for ten years. I'm 5'1, and the smallest I got was 103 lb. I was living off of a few slices of cheese and a cup of pasta every other day. I also ran around a mile daily. Once I moved out of the house (My dad is 5'8 and weighed 120 lb at the time. He once told me a size 5 was too fat – that was about 12 years ago), The disorder seemed to mellow out a bit. It reared it's ugly head in the form of nasty, disparaging voices about my weight, but I refrained from acting on it for awhile. At 25, I had a child. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder prior to having her. I had some nasty, nasty postpartum depression. I lost a lot of weight the first month after delivery, but I wasn't trying. I was put on an antipsychotic, and the weight slowly crept back on. I exercised and ate a reasonable amount of calories, but I still couldn't lose weight. I ended up getting to the weight I was a week before my daughter was born, even though I had started to restrict my eating.

    After a year of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, I have learned to be mindful of the "voices in my head," and the self-judgment has significantly decreased. I ended up needing to change to lithium, which actually made it easier to lose weight. I'm now at 130 lb., and I'm OK with that. I'm naturally on the stocky side – broad shoulders and hips, muscular legs – so this isn't a bad weight, really. For some women my height, it wouldn't work, but it seems to work well for me. 103 lbs. makes me look sickly. I managed to get out of the eating disorder thing – atleast as much as one can – without any major health problems. Bones are surprisingly healthy – I have good genes in that department.

    Any eating issues, anorexia/bulimia/overeating/etc., should be approached with kindness – negative messages can make things so much worse.

    February 11, 2012 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Panda1986

    was up panda skinny guy looking for skinny girl wahat you say?

    February 13, 2012 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. La Gigi Caceres

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to see the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own website now ;)

    April 4, 2012 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. show

    You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be really something which I feel I would by no means understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely large for me. I am looking ahead to your subsequent publish, I'll try to get the hold of it!

    April 25, 2012 at 06:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Adidas Cleats

    Hi I am so delighted I came across your web site, I must say i discovered you in error, while I was viewing on bing for something more important, Anyhow I am the following now and would likely like to say appreciate for any huge publish and a over-all entertaining website. Remember to maintain the great function.
    Adidas Cleats http://www.soccer-dreams.com

    October 27, 2012 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.