Models Shunned in the Name of Self Esteem

If you thumb through a copy of any popular fashion magazine and look at the print ads, you will notice a recurring theme – the models are waifs. For decades the fashion industry has been dominated by rail-thin models like Twiggy and Kate Moss. Two words come to mind when I see bikini clad models in summer editions of magazines I subscribe to: binge and purge.

The constant argument that fashion models, and even Barbie dolls, are sending the wrong message to young girls is as old as I am. While Mattel was finally forced to change Barbie’s bust line to a more “realistic” size proportionate to her frame, (they overlooked the fact that Barbie – if she were real – would be about six feet tall and weigh 100 pounds) the fashion industry seemed to pick and choose models with less and less body mass with each photo shoot.

As I mentioned in a past article, Dove stirred up the masses with their “Beautiful” campaign for self esteem that featured women of average weight and height posing in print ads and billboards. The outrage displayed was almost comical.

TLC (The Learning Channel) soon jumped on the bandwagon with their show Cover Shot, hosted by leggy supermodel Frederique. The show’s goal: to make over an average woman and turn her into a cover model in 48 hours. At the end of the show she is revealed in all her newfound glamour on a billboard. The show both boosts the chosen woman’s self esteem and shows her even though she is “average” she can still be viewed as sexy and glamorous.

In the wake of changes with television ads, and doll figures came the biggest blow to the world of anorexic models everywhere – there is such a thing as being too thin. The Spanish runway fashion show Pasarela Cibeles, hosted in Madrid, turned away what they called “slews” of models – because they were too thin.

Pasarela Cibeles, which is to run from September 18 – 22, has a theme of health and beauty and the waifs didn’t fit the bill. Organizers calculated each potential models’ body mass indexes and turned away anyone not within the 18.5 – 24.9 range. The pageant estimated that 30 percent of the models that showed up hoping to land a spot in the show flunked the body mass index test.

The fashion show did not act alone. The Madrid government put pressure on the show’s organizers to hire fuller figured models to serve as role models for young girls. Girls that are at risk of developing eating disorders in a quest to be as perfect as models they admire.

While there is no health benefit to being overweight, there certainly is no plus side where eating disorders and drug use to get thin and stay thin are concerned. Being satisfied with who you are comes from within. Learning to love oneself, regardless of what we don’t like about ourselves, is a work in progress. We must all remember to celebrate who we are, not what we wish we were.

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