On Monday’s episode of The City, Whitney took her friends Erin and Allie out to meet up with her old boss, Kelly Cutrone, who upsets everyone by calling Allie, who is a model, “too skinny.”
Wait… a model is being called too skinny? By someone who works in the fashion industry?
When I heard that I couldn’t help thinking: “Finally! Is the world of fashion finally getting some sense in them?”
Of course, all of us normal folk know that the runway models are too skinny. It’s been a subject of constant controversy for years and one that is especially important to discuss as we attempt to bring more attention to the tragic effects of eating disorders. Models’ stick-thin figures are unrealistic, unhealthy, and unattainable—yet girls everywhere accept them as the standard to which to compare themselves (only to fall short in comparison). Because of this, the fashion industry is often blamed for so many young women developing eating disorders. For too many years, we’ve become used to sickly-looking models walking the runways, and have come to accept it as the norm.
But now it appears that things are beginning to change. Slowly.
Back in 2006, Spain banned too-thin models from the catwalk at Madrid’s Fashion Week, turning away any model with a B.M.I. (or Body Mass Index, which takes into account both height and weight) of less than 18. Representatives for Madrid’s regional government stated that the fashion industry has a “responsibility to portray healthy body images,” especially since “many teenagers imitate what they see on the catwalk.”
Not surprisingly, many people in the fashion industry weren’t thilled, arguing that designers had a choice in what type of models they want to use, and worried about “gazelle-like” models’ careers being harmed. (Editor’s Note: Couldn’t they just eat a little bit and try again?)
However, Spain’s move also inspired some change. Many praised Spain’s attempt at creating a more realistic representation of women in the fashion industry, and Italy followed suit, also banning too-thin models from fashion shows in Milan that same year. More recently, fashion designer Maria Grachvogel made headlines when she expressed anger over the shortage of curvier models. Grachvogel, who is best known for apparently “magic” pants that are said “flatter all women,” has said that she preferred size-10 models, but when she asked modeling agencies for their curviest models, most of the girls she was presented with were below a size 8.
Grachvogel’s preference for models with “a bit of shape” has only reignited the fight over the portrayal of women in the fashion industry, and it seems that now (at long last), small steps are being made to have more realistic representations of the average woman in the fashion industry.
We are probably still a long way away from a truly realistic representation of women on the catwalk, but hearing Kelly Cutrone tear overly skinny models apart gives us a bit of hope that it’s coming. The fashion industry may hate the idea, but change is never easy.