The fashion industry is once again pretending to be “doing” something about the fact that it has a penchant for using emaciated 15 year olds to represent women. This time it is Vogue magazine, and they have launched a pact that states they will no longer use unhealthy models or girls that are under the age of 16.
In theory, it is great that they are doing this. But in reality, I doubt it will make much of a difference. Most importantly, Vogue doesn’t appear to be doing this because they care or are interested, as all of the wording in this pact is vague and non-committal. Have a look at the six points:
“1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.
“2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns.
“3. We will help to structure mentoring programs where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls,…
“4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy…
“5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes…
“6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.”
(Read the full regulations here.)
Words like “we will encourage…” “we will ask that…” and “we will not knowingly…” don’t sounds very serious, do they? It sounds like Vogue is trying to behave like they care, but aren’t willing to actually make any sacrifices. How do they intend on “encouraging” people? Anna Wintour is in the position where she could FORCE people to do things, but it doesn’t sound like this will be the case. The worst is “We encourage designers to consider the consequences…” (Number 5.) Asking someone to consider the consequences of something is not going to be effective, however REFUSING to photograph samples in size 0 would definitely promote change.
And the last one is the most laughable. What is a “message of a healthy body image”? Photoshopping people until they look like they are made of plastic? I think not. The problem here is not the 15 or 14 year old models, it is the fact that for the past 50 or so years, women are represented in magazines by skinny teenagers. It is going to take more than a silly 6 point pact to change this, and I don’t think Vogue have real good intentions here, I think they are doing this for appearances only (ah… the irony.)
But I guess the other thing to note is that I don’t really care that much. I do think that models who appear to be anorexic or are disgustingly thin are not attractive, but I do think that most of the current “top” models are very beautiful. I’m not overly concerned about the fact that we favour slim, young women in the fashion industry, I am used to it and it doesn’t bother me. What does annoy me is when magazines make vague, non-committal pacts to “try” and do things differently. If Vogue is serious about this, then they should DO things, not simply “encourage” them.