Yes, magazines put abnormally thin human beings on covers. (We’re guilty of it too.) Sure, Photoshop is overused. As Tina Fey admits in Bossy Pants, “I feel about Photoshop the way some people feel about abortion. It is appalling and a tragic reflection on the moral decay of our society…unless I need it, in which case, everybody be cool.” And it’s sad that we have discovered a girl’s self esteem peaks at 9 years of age. But the most peeving part of this conversation (that we just. keep. having.) is that fashion magazines step in like superheroes with their once-a-year health issues or one-time plus-size model spread, poised to excuse themselves from endorsing too-thinness and advocacy group’s complaints. The other 11 months of the year, we find the usual super slender bodies donning delightful designer concoctions.
Now, Women’s Wear Daily reports that Conde Nast’s Vogue publications are going to start promoting “healthier” body image with a new, so-called “Health Initiative.” Wait. Hold the phone. That’s problem number one, since they won’t agree to simply promote healthy body image. Just healthier. According to WWD.com, the six-point agreement signed by Vogue’s 19 worldwide editions includes the following:
Among the points that form the pact are that the editors will not knowingly work with models under 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder; that they will ask casting directors not to knowingly send underage models to their magazines; they will help structure mentoring programs so that more mature models can advise their younger counterparts; they will encourage designers to “consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes,” and that they will encourage show producers to create healthy backstage working environments for models.
More -ier language. They won’t stop working with underage models, but they won’t do it knowingly. They still won’t I.D. models and turn down the ones under 16, but they’ll ask casting directors not to send them. They’re not going to set up mentoring programs; they are just going to help structure them. They won’t demand larger sample sizes from designers, but they will encourage them to consider the consequences.
I think that one of two things should happen. One, fashion magazines should stand up say, “Look, clothing looks better on skinny b*tches. We are not responsible for people getting the wrong idea.” I mean, I get it. These out-of-grasp body shapes and obscenely priced garments keep the high fashion world feeling exclusive and inspirational. Plus, fashion is about the clothing, not necessarily the model. Or, two, if they’re really committed to healthy body image (not healthier, but healthy) go ahead and commit 100 percent to changing the image currently promoted (from stick thin young things to womanly shapes) and move forward.