Eating Disorders in Fashion Industry

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 Dr. Rachel Adato – Levy declares, “Beautiful is not underweight, beautiful should not be anorexic,” the fashion industry’ us the images of woman who are not of average weight in magazines to twist the minds of what an “average person” looks like. This view of the average person has led to a slew of mental problems, a large part including eating disorders. The mental problems have formed society into the need to look a certain way, leading to physical problems, including nerve damage, fractures, pain, and even death. The fashion industry to this day has not taken into account of what the images are doing to people’s minds.

A brief description of the different types of eating disorder. Eating disorders are among some of the worse disorders, it can cause physical harm to the body. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Individuals with anorexia nervous are described of having a fear of being fat even with a low weight, including the BMI (Body Mass Index).

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Anorexia nervosa includes having a lack of appetite, it is hard for individuals to hide this disorder. The body shows significant sign of weight loss including brittle hair and nails due to the lack of vitamins and nutrition. Women with anorexia suffer from lack of a menstrual cycle. A person who has Anorexia nervosa tends to eat the least amount of calories they can a day. They are so malnutritritioned that they don’t realize that they are in such bad. They believe that they are not doing themselves any harm. A person will need therapy and a lot of help to be able to beat the disorder.

In 1991, the average model only weighed approximately eight percent less than the average woman of the same time period. In 2019, this number drastically changes to 23%. An average model weighs approximately 23% percent less than the average woman (Lovett). The average model has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 17.1 (Lasseck), meeting the requirements for anorexia. According to Beverly Johnson a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 (“Ideal Weight”) l, a model at the height of her career in 1991, was between a size four and a size six. Ms. Johnson is considered a plus – size model by today’s standards (Lovett). The average plus size model is a size six. The average size of a woman today is a fourteen.

Talent scouts have been approaching thin girls exiting an eating disorder clinic, including a girl so sick she was in a wheelchair. Dr. Sandeberg, a doctor at the clinic, says these approaches send the wrong idea to these sick girls. It applauds them for being unhealthy and encourages them to continue (Nordqvist). The fashion industry is trying to tell the average person they are too fat to be beautiful, when, in actuality, prospective fashion models are too unhealthy to stand. Noticing similar problems in their country, Israel has made it illegal for clinically underweight models to work. Models must have a BMI of 18.5 or more and proof from a doctor stating this as fact (Nordqvist). Israel is making a move to force the fashion world to accept the average person rather than making their own person. Even Coco Chanel had to face the distorted views of the fashion industry in her day, including corseted dresses and uncomfortable shoes. She never allowed the trends to change her (Roehm).

Rarely thought about, plus sized models also create a warped perception about the average person. Davide Dragone and Luca Savorelli, researchers at the University of Bologna, argue plus size models are similarly misconstruing the “average person.” The researchers, in their paper, claim being surrounded by heavier models, similarly to thin models, induce the need to change, however, in the opposite way thin models have subconsciously encouraged. In short, plus size models promote over eating and obesity. The researchers claim models are a mental trigger that causes a physical change (“Researchers claim”)

A multitude of mental problems have been associated with the fashion industry’s inaccurate depiction of the average person. One of the biggest concerns of doctors and scientist today are eating disorders. Some scientists argue that eating disorders are caused by mental triggers (Nordqvist), such as self – esteem, depression, anxiety or bullying (Lovato). Demi Lovato, Disney actress and contributing editor of “Seventeen,” stopped eating at the age of twelve because she was called fat. Since then, Lovato had received help, but found herself becoming depressed again. To encourage herself, she has tattooed “stay strong” on her wrist, reminding herself not to go back to her eating disorder (Lovato).

Fashion models similarly promote eating disorders. Susan Alber, Psy. D claims thin models are the main trigger for eating disorders. Anne E. Becker’s research says eating disorders increased with the arrival of television (Pearson). The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders stated seventy percent of girls in grades five through twelve reported that magazine images influenced their idea of a perfect body (Pearson). To limit the number of underweight models at Montreal Fashion Week, a major fashion event, Canada, similar to Israel, has banned too thin models from walking. The 18.5 BMI and proof from a doctor rules were similarly applied (Radford). Leona Palmer, a plus size model and “Huffpost” reporter, feels an equal sense of responsibility when it comes to influencing body image. Palmer doesn’t want overweight to become the new skinny (Pearson). The age of the model walking is also an influencing factor. Young models cause higher mental problems in teenagers verses older adults (Pearson). To encourage people to keep fighting against eating disorders, Lovato suggests Jed Foundation and the Love is Louder that the Pressure to be Perfect Campaign. These organizations encourage a positive outlook on one’s “flaws” (Lovato).

Metal, a key ingredient in nearly every fashion – forward outfit, has been proven to be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease. When I person with Alzheimer’s disease dies, researchers find a protein build up with in the brain, blocking the signals the brain send out. Researchers also find, what they call, beta – amyloid plaques. Neal Barnard, a medical professor at George Washington University School of Medicine, states the researchers find a build up of iron, copper and aluminum with in. Barnard further ventures that iron, copper, and aluminum act a “free radicals,” sending sparks that damage the brain, similar to the sparks created by a fork in a microwave. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging conducted an experiment to determine the effects metal has on women. It was found that women with the lowest levels of iron in their blood stream performed better on a cognition test. The test also proved that metal caused daily “mental fuzziness.” It has been proven metal, continually worn, is soaked up through the skin, particularly by skin near the face. In order to avoid metal caused Alzheimer’s disease, switch types of metals regularly (Goldman).

The fashion industry’s misconstrued take of the average person has also lead to physical health hazards. Needless to say, eating disorders are also a physical problem. These disorders cause many a problem. Because of the major dehydration and lack of potassium, sodium, and chloride, bulimics often experience electrolyte imbalances. Electrolyte imbalances with in the body can cause heart failure or death. The rupture of the stomach and throat during binge eating is another serious threat. Relatively less dangerous health problems include tooth decay and staining, irregular bowel movements, ulcers, and pancreatitis. Other binge eating disorders often result in high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Heart disease, Type II diabetes, and gallbladder disease (“Health Consequences”).

Anorexia has its own set of problems tied to it. Anorexia causes the heart rate to slow and low blood pressure. This change is the result of the heart muscle weakening, increasing the chance for heart failure. Anorexia also causes osteoporosis, dry brittle bones or bone density loss. More obvious health problems include, fainting or fatigue, dry skin and hair, often leading to hair loss, and growth of a type of hair called lanugo that feels soft and downy, similar to babies hair, to keep the body warm (“Health Consequences”). Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disease. These deaths are usually suicides. The Council of Fashion Designers of America have drawn attention to the “unhealthily thin” models of the day. The Fashion Council has also shown concern about models’ weight. The Council has recommended models be screened for eating disorders. Models would be required to show proof from a doctor that they meet the 18 5 BMI before working (Radford). Palmer also states plus size models are a problem. She encourages all models to strive to be healthy (Pearson).

Phil Busching, a physical therapist, has seen first – hand what today’s fashion trends do to people, including his daughter. Busching’s daughter wore a fashionably wide belt that pushed on a nerve in her thigh, causing her severe pain until the problem was discovered. It has also been proven that wearing the, previously fashionable, small glasses caused peripheral vision to fail. The wearer had to turn their head more often to see, causing neck issues. The “in vogue” busty girl led to more breast augmentations, which causes back problems. These back problems are the result of different muscles being forced to do work that they are not used to. Today that’s the only major problem breast augmentation causes. However, when the augmentation process was first created, it was extremely dangerous, with the possibility of leading to death. The infamous skinny jean also causes nerve numbness and tingling. Heels cause nerve irritation, stress factors, back pains (Rick), bunions, hammertoes, and Morton’s Neuroma. Morton’s Neuroma is caused by the awkward position one must keep one’s leg in while walking in heels. This position causes the knee and kneecap to squeeze the nerves between them, causing extreme pain (Young). The fashion industry’s representation of the average person has led to a mental dissatisfaction with oneself unless one looks exactly like the fashion model, which has led to plethora of physical problems caused by fashion – forward clothing articles and accessories.

Dr. Rachel Adato – Levy had the right idea when she said, “Beautiful is not underweight, beautiful should not be anorexic’ (Nordqvist). The fashion industry has skewed the definition of an average person. This twisted view of beauty has caused mental problems, which in turn, has caused physical health hazards. Beauty has been made into an underweight, depressed, near – death girl. Isn’t today’s Beauty beautiful? 


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