Vogue Pledges To Fight Eating Disorders

Vogue is leading the way with an “anti anorexia” policy that will focus on educating women and models to be about healthy standards of beauty and self esteem.

Vogue magazine, the world’s most influential journal of style and fashion, has taken an editorial stand that’s designed to promote a healthier body image for women of all ages. Beginning with the June issue, all 19 international editions of the magazine have adopted a new policy that bans models who are under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder.

Ever since the 1990s when waifish models like Kate Moss popularized a look that has been called “heroin chic,” super thin models have been in demand for runway shows and magazine layouts. Despite widespread criticism, a large segment of the fashion industry has continued to focus on models who are very young and ultra thin. Many believe that this association between high fashion and a very low body weight is sending the wrong message to young women.

Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Vogue’s parent company Condé Nast International, released a statement saying that Vogue is committed to the health of models and readers. In addition to monitoring the age and weight of models that appear in the magazine, Vogue is committing to establishing mentoring programs where mature models will give guidance and advice to  young girls. The magazine will also encourage designers to provide sample clothing in larger sizes, expanding the range of women who can be chosen to model their styles.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in Israel banned the use of underweight models in commercials and fashion shows. In the interest of reducing eating disorders, women and men who apply for modeling jobs in Israel must have a doctor verify that their BMI (a number representing the ration between weight and height) is at least 18.5. This figure is used by the World Health Organization to define an individual as underweight. The new Israeli law also requires print publications to state when photos have been Photoshopped or otherwise manipulated to make a model appear thinner.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the link between media images of thin models and eating disorders has not been established scientifically. Many factors are believed to contribute to the onset of an eating disorder, including heredity, environment, stress and emotional issues. However, most experts agree that using models with healthy body weights will reduce the pressure on women, men, teenagers and even children to set unrealistic weight goals for themselves.

The new policy at Vogue is a positive step in the right direction in terms of discouraging eating disorders. Other fashion magazines published by Condé Nast, including Allure and Glamour, will not be affected by the new Vogue policy. This may be because those magazines don’t focus on high-end designer fashions, which is where the thinnest models are used. All the same, it would seem beneficial for Condé Nast to put a healthy body image policy into effect for all it publications.