Who:  Condé Nast International (Vogue Magazine in particular)

What: This is a ban on underage and too skinny models apart of the” Vogue Health Initiative”. Models that are under the age of 16 or who are deemed too skinny will not be allowed to appear in the publication, fashion shows, or ad campaigns featured in their magazine.                                                                            Vogue is only putting models to work if they promote a healthy body image. This initiative is supported by Anne Wintour , the editor at large for American Vogue.

When: May 3, 2012; Editions of Vogue published for June 2012 and onward. It stems from a 2007 voluntary campaign to use models over the age of 16.

Where: all Condé Nast publications in 19 countries such as: US, UK, France, Italy, Australia, Russia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, India, and Turkey. Thailand and Ukraine will both be a part of this when they start publication in 2013. The stand is enforced in photo shoots, ad campaigns, and fashion shows.

Why: The most dramatic reason stems from the 2007 initial voluntary ban that came about after two models died in 2006 due to eating disorders.  The other reasons are a little less concrete. Sample sizes have been shrinking to unrealistic sizes for decades; the anorexic models have been sending a bad message to the public, that women with malnutrition are healthy women; bad working conditions for models; financial exploitation of underage models, school and academic breaks result in less education, and “overall lack of empowerment in the workplace”. Americans have recently been on a trend to get healthier over the past several years and I think this stems from that.

How: They will enforce the ban by checking photo IDs before photo shoots ect. They have already had to pull an ad campaign in the Japanese vogue. In September 2012 a new step was added- model agencies were required to show documented proof of models age.  This happened after a 15 year old girl was featured in an article in Vogue China. They will do this by strict enforcement of guidelines established. The judgment on “too skinny” is very objective and criteria could vary from person to person making it hard to keep a consistent standard across all 19 publications.

My Reaction: This ban is a positive statement to the public especially the American public which two thirds of the population is obese. Getting healthy is an important goal for Americans and for the largest fashion publication to make a statement like this and actually stick to it makes a big impact on the culture. Baylor has a very high level of anorexia and other eating disorders on campus and I think that a major fashion magazine such as this will hit the demographic and hopefully make a few people aware of the problem.  Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness and that is a problem for the future of our country. We have people dying from being overweight and from people being underweight, we need to get healthy fast!

Fashion magazines have often been criticized for portraying unachievable body images and for airbrushing people to look skinnier and more malnourished than they actually are. I understand that Vogue will not be putting a full figured models or heaven forbid a plus size model at size 10 in their fashion spreads, but small steps is better than none. I do not think this ban will end anorexia or eating disorders, but I do think this is a good first step. Vogue is looked up too in the industry and for them to make this stand makes an influential statement

. Everyone knows that these too skinny models that have eating disorders are sick, but for some reason we still want to emulate them. I hope that this stand will be reflected in the fashion industry for a call for more healthy normal size women. Even a size two on someone naturally skinny would portray the clothing in a desirable light, and still portray a healthier look for our future generations to emulate. Lena Dunham has made the news for appearing on TV nude, in her hit TV show Girls, with non-airbrushed body clear for the audience. Some reacted in discus and some say it is groundbreaking showing her “normal body” on screen. The fact that an “average” woman appearing on screen nude instead of being airbrushed and tiny has caused so much publicity shows that people have opinions and feel deeply on the subject even if they don’t all agree. I think the fashion industry could see a demand from consumers to show more “average” looking girls, I do not think that the skinny look will ever truly go out of style, but I thing that a healthy woman walking down he runway with toned muscle instead of no muscle could be in the future. Clothing in fashion shows and sample sizes for editorials are all in TINY sizes and built for women with NO curves, I can see a trend toward making some of these items fit a healthier body type if more women are featured and older girls are featured.

I also think the ban on underage models can help, a lot of these girls are just those girls and it can be easy to overwork and over expose these children that are not legally making decisions of their own. They are being forced to make very adult decisions at an age where they should not have to. I also think the featuring of the underage girls promotes the same body image issues but targets a much younger audience. It is not just college age women (and men) that have these issues; they start young, VERY young.  By keeping the age limit higher, hopefully the youth will not feel as obligated to look just like the other 14 year old in the magazine.

 Peer pressure and media significantly influence teenage girls and underage models fit in both categories (peer pressure in the fact that they are the same age and are often idolized, sometimes making girls feel like they are friends with, these models) making the impact that much greater. A British labor union just worked with British Vogue to establish 10 guidelines that must be met when working with models. This was signed over a year after the Conde Nast decision which shows that some steps are being taken, but the effectiveness of the guidelines and public stand need to be evaluated thoroughly.