Is The Problem With Too-Thin Models Too-Young Girls?

After Tuesday’s CFDA panel “The Beauty of Health: Resizing the Sample Size,” it was suggested that perhaps the industry needs to readjust its age standards in order to reconsider size. Increasingly, the models strutting down the catwalk aren’t so much women as they are very young girls, some barely 16 years old. Model casting agent James Scully argues, “It’s natural for a 13- or 14-year-old to be slim, have a small bust and hips that measure no more than 33 inches, but as those models age — to all of 18 or 19 — they will do ‘terribly dangerous things’ to fight nature and their increasingly womanly bodies.” This means that often, designer’s sample sizes are unthinkably small, and obviously much easier for a teenager, who hasn’t hit puberty yet, to squeeze into. So the CFDA has started to wonder if the industry sample size standard needs to drastically change to allow a healthier dialogue about fashion and body image. The weight debate has come to the forefront again, both from the unchanging proliferation of bony models and from voices like V magazine with their size issue, which tried to combat such an image (or at least appear like it was doing so). While other countries to host versions of Fashion Week have put firm regulations in place, America and the CDFA have yet to make true rules—rather, they have voluntary “suggestions” about healthy body image.

Associating age with thinness is a newer approach to dealing with the dilemma … and yet, we have to wonder if it’s just a way to deflect from more pressing issues (the fact of anorexia being an all-too-common standard on the runway, even in young girls). Can focusing the debate on age really change how older models and designers change their looks? [The Canadian Press]