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Society's catch-22
*Alright guys, I wrote this brochure for my A.P. English class, but I'm not quite satisfied. Anyways, it's a topic I'm quite interested in. I do not blame models for eating disorders, as they, along with the hundreds of other factors, are not sole contributors. But what do you think:

Should underweight and unhealthy models be banned from more/all runways or other media promotions?*

The Vanity plague Death Struts Down the Catwalk

by: Moi
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societal standards have ebbed at the human mind since the beginning of civilization.Often, we find ourselves quite engrossed in our financial, moral, intellectual, and physical appearance. And, as with most issues, we as a society have gone too far and neglected a deep wound known as 'self image'. In fact, consumers, manufacturers, and media combined have infected the once somewhat possible standards of the human body and let them fester into something entirely dangerous and unattainable. In this day and age, self image is at an all time low, and unfortunately, this is influenced in large part by the super-skinny, washboard abs models, actors, and celebrities that are portrayed as sexy and successful. Not only do these figures endanger their own health, but the effect is detrimental to society and its more impressionable members. Luckily, some action, though a feeble whisper in comparison to the shrill cries of the vanity enterprize, is being taken by foreign counties. America, however, has yet to reevaluate its priorities between beauty and a beating heart; something needs to be done as more women and, increasingly, men endanger their health in pursuit of 'perfection'.

Fatal Fashion
Since the birth of the fashion industry, there has been a demand for those to model its products. these figures of beauty have changed in shape, size, and cosmetics with each passing fad. Unfortunately, over the last few decades, thin is 'in', and dangerously so. Twenty years ago, the average fashion model weighed 8% less less than the average woman. Today, the gap has become a chasm of a whopping 23%(health.discovery)! The average runway model weighs 120-124 pounds at 5'10" or 5'11" (usatoday), this is well under the healthy body mass index (BMI)*. And, where 5-10% of the world population suffers from eating disorders, 40% of the modeling world has been diagnosed with the mental disease in one form or another (discoveryhealth). This is proof that model standards are dangerous, and, in some tragic cases, fatal! Not only that, but the typical model is 14-19 years of age (usatoday), making modeling one of the shortest lived careers. But, the unhealthy standards and habits these fashion phenomenons attain follow them for the rest of their lives (see eating disorders). Worst of all, this vicious cycle is a Catch-22. Models stay this because the populous demands it, society aspires for thinness because fashion industries promote it.
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Effects on Society
So what if the models are thin? It does not mean everyone is vulnerable to this influence. Correct, some people can reject the image, in fact, a whole 18% of adolescent girls are immune (usatoday). People, adolescents in particular, are very susceptible to poor body image. According to Psychology Today, 56% of women and 43% percent of men are dissatisfied with their bodies, only 11% of those women and 22% of the men wanted to gain weight or stay the same, the rest wanted to lose weight. In fact, 15% of women and 11% of men said they would give five or more years of their lives to lose weight, 24% women and 17% men claimed they would give at least three years (PsychologyToday). Body image has dropped drastically within the last few decades and gets worse as more adolescents look outward to find themselves and see only what they are 'lacking'. Females are especially prone to this ailment as society beckons for 'thin and sexy'. In fact, girls as young as nine have portrayed a fear of 'fatness' (PsychologyToday) and studies have found girls in grade one who think culture is telling them to model themselves after celebrities who are svelte, beautiful, and sexy. "girls are being taught very young that thin and sexy is the way they want to be when they grow up, so they better start working on it now," says psychologist and author Sharon Lamb. She believes it's normal for girls to want to feel sexy as adolescents, "If they are spending all their time choosing the right wardrobe, trying to dance like an MTV backup girl, and applying lip gloss, it robs them of their other options" (usatoday). Kelly Cutrone, owner of People's Revolution (a company that produces fashion shows internationally), has this to say: "Women shouldn't be comparing themselves to these girls. These girls are anomalies of nature. They are freaks of nature. They are not average. They are naturally thin and have incredibly long legs compared to the rest of their body..." (usatoday). At this time, I would like to refer you once again to the percentage of models with eating disorders (an unnatural mean of weight control and psychological disease), and to the definition of '"model"*.

Delayed Reaction: How Can We Fix this Standard?
Restrictions on the Runway- It was not until the unfortunate death of Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos, who reportedly passed away via heart failure, that restrictions were finally passed in Madrid, Spain and Milan, Italy during Fashion Week*. these restrictions state models must have a BMI of at least 18*, which is still underweight(usatoday). Consequently, 30% of models were banned from fashion week for failing to meet these restrictions (starpulse). Now, organizers in France, Britain, and other fashion monopolies are pressured to follow. Incidentally, America is one of the countries yet to meet these restrictions.
Media Recognition- Vogue, among other fashion companies, has recognized these gaunt models, but refuses to acknowledge evidence of unhealthy behaviors such as disordered eating. Kelly Cutrone defends "If we get a girl who is than 4, she is not going to fit into the clothes," and continues with "Clothes look better on thin people, fabric hangs better" (usatoday). However, 30% of people surveyed claimed they would like to see and support magazines with more realistic models. On top of this, Glamour magazine's Leive claims to support models of healthy weight and all different sizes. Model van der Wal agrees with this approach and is trying to do the same for Coverspot (usatoday)
Mirrorless Monday- Loyola University has observed a week known as 'Mirrorless Monday' in which campus students cover up their mirrors (beginning the Monday of the designated week) in acknowledgment of eating disorders and negative self-image statics.
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*BMI- A measurement of the relative percentages of fat and muscle mass in the human body, in which weight in kilograms is divided by height in meters and the result used as an index of obesity (Dictionary.com) A healthy BMI ranges anywhere from 18.5-25.9
Body Image- A mental representation of oneself that governs a large part in self-esteem, behavior, perceptions, psycopathology (PsychologyToday)
Fashion Week- an annual ten day international fashion event
Eating Disorder- an involuntary mental disease that generally revolves around poor self-image, self control, and depression. If not treated, the side effects and health problems associated with this disease can prove fatal.
Health problems include (pending on severity and diagnosed disorder): Heart disease/failure, damage to the liver and kidneys, anemia, swollen joints, hair loss, weakened bones, ostioperosis, stomach pains, damaged esophogus, internal bleeding, ruptured stomach, tooth decay, 'chipmunk cheeks', malnutrition, severe depression, OCD and obsession with food/meals, and in some cases, fatality.
Anorexia Nervosa- characterized by obsession with weight loss and starvation (Webster's New World Dictionary)
Bulimia- characterized by consuming large amounts of food, or binging, followed by self-induced vomiting (Webster's New World Dictionary)
BED- (Binge Eating Disorder) characterized by binging but not purging afterwards to avoid weight gain (dailycollegian)
ENDOS- (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) characterized as compulsive eating and uncontrolled, sometimes secretive, eating (discoveryhealth)
*Model- a person or thing regarded as a standard of excellence to be imitated (Webster's New World Dictionary)

Vanity Plague Works Cited
Dictionary.com. 3 Nov. 2007. 9 Nov. 2007 <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/BMI>.
"Eating Disorders." Daily Collegian. 2 Nov. 2007. 4 Nov. 2007 <http://www.dailycollegian.com/home/
"Eating Disorders." Discovery Health. 30 Oct. 2007. 5 Nov. 2007 <http://health.discovery.com/
Garner, David. "Survey Says: Body Image Poll Results." Psychology Today Feb. 1997. 4 Nov. 2007
Hellmich, Nanci. "Do Thin Models Warp Girls' Body Image?" USA Today. 9 Nov. 2007. 3 Nov. 2007
Luby, Katherine. "Mirrorless Moday addresses self-image." The Greyhound 25 Mar. 2003: 1A. 2 Nov.
2007 <http://media.www.loyolagreyhound.com/media/stprage/paper665/news/2003/03/25ArtsSociety/
Satter, Rapheal G. "Screen Models for Eating Disorders." StarPulse. 3 Oct. 2007. 5 Nov. 2007
Simon&Shuster, Inc., ed. Webster's New World Dictionary. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc., 1990.

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