Vogue moves to limit too-young, too-skinny models
Vogue magazine, perhaps the world's top arbiter of style, is making a statement about its own models: Too young and too thin is no longer in. (AP / Stuart Ramson)
Published Friday, May 4, 2012 8:51AM EDT
Vogue, long regarded as the world's top trend-setting fashion magazine, is promising to use only healthy models on its pages from now on, amid concerns that the industry is dominated by ultra-skinny, far-too-young models.
The 19 editors of Vogue magazines issued a statement Thursday in which they said they had forged a six-point pact, called the Health Initiative.
The first point of the pact reads: "We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image."
The pledge also encourages model mentorship programs and reasonable working hours.
"Vogue believes that good health is beautiful," Conde Nast International Chairman Jonathan Newhouse in a statement.
"Vogue Editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the well-being of their readers."
Eighteen editions of the magazine, including the American, French, and British versions, will kick off the effort in their June issues, with special editorials discussing the initiative. The Japanese edition will publish its editorial in July.
British Vogue is planning a feature in its June issue that will examines women's attitudes to nutrition, and include interviews on the subject with models including Stella Tennant, Lily Cole and Adriana Lima.
While many are applauding the initiative as a good first step, what isn't clear from the Conde Nast statement is how the magazines plan to enforce their own rules or what consequences there will be for those caught violating them.
The entire fashion industry has been criticized for decades for idealizing extreme thinness and creating an unrealistic standard of beauty. As the average weight of women in Western countries has risen, many women have complained that the industry hasn't reflected reality, using models have look nothing like them.
There has also been a backlash in recent years against the overuse of digital retouching in print publications and ad that create images of models and celebrities with unnaturally tiny waists and limbs.
The issue grew more heated after the death of two models from apparent complications from eating disorders in 2006 and 2007.
Those deaths led to an ad campaign in 2007 that included a picture of Isabelle Caro, a French actress and model, who clearly suffered from anorexia. With her shoulder and facial bones protruding, she sat naked under the slogan "No Anorexia."
Caro died in 2010 at the age of 28.
In 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of America adopted a voluntary initiative that emphasized age minimums and healthy working environments during New York Fashion Week.
London Fashion Week designers also signed a contract with the British Fashion Council to use models who are at least 16. Organizers of that show promised to go one step further in 2008 by requiring international health certificates for models. But those plans were dropped after industry executives refused to co-operate.
Earlier this year, Israel's government passed a law banning underweight models from local advertising. The new law requires models to produce a medical report, dating back no more than three months, at every shoot that will be used on the Israeli market, stating that they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards.
The law also requires publications to disclose when they use altered images to make women and men appear thinner.