The legal age to walk the runway in the United States of America is 16. Girls as young as 16, and even younger, are working twelve hours a day, traveling internationally, and are less educated. Work hours are long and tiresome and the models do not get enough meal breaks or sleep. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, in the past, has made weak efforts to enforce the regulations for models that are underage. Young models are developing eating disorders and unhealthy body image due to the pressure to be the size that the fashion industry requires.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) should make the rules stricter about the work environments for underage models because they are malnourished, uneducated, and have an unhealthy body image. Models that are underage are legally required to have work permits. These work permits are to be signed by their employers stating that they will abide by the laws and follow the strict limitations for underage workers. Limitations such as the amount of hours they work and meal breaks.
In New York, child models under the age of 18 they must carry their permit with them to work and must have an At-12 green booklet that they must carry to each job. In the booklet they must record the hours they worked each day including when they get breaks and the job-site manager must sign on each page for the day. Regulations for underage models also include not working while the school the model attends is in session for more than four hours that day. They may not work more than eight hours in one day at all.
No more than 48 hours in a week can be exceeded for underage models ages 16 to 17. The stress of working in an industry that focuses solely on appearance takes a toll on young models. The self-esteem of teenage girls is already unbalanced due to the glamorous image of being thin. Most people don’t realize that most modeling agencies have a regulation size that you must be in order to model for their agency. The sample size for most agencies is a size 0. The council of fashion designers of America recently discussed raising the sample size to a size 4 but they have not made any motion to do so.
Reading an article about models and eating disorders I found one that a model claimed that the person to blame is the model herself. "No one chained me to a treadmill; no one forced me to starve…I made those decisions to reach for the standards that were set for me” claims model Chrystal Renn. However when it comes to underage models that are as young as 16 the modeling agencies should take blame, because the models are underage they are not legally equipped to make the decisions for themselves. Although the standards are a size 0 for models in the U. S. he CFDA could look at raising the sample size for underage models. This could be a solution to the rising number of unhealthy models. This can also improve the unhealthy body image that the fashion industry gives to young girls in the United States. However, the pressure to be a size zero is not the sole reason that models are unhealthy. Many young girls are a size 0 and are in good health they are just naturally petite. Girls that are naturally a size 0 do not comply with the theory that the sample size is the only reason that models develop unhealthy body image.
Many young girls idealize about being thin. The images of ideal bodies in magazines and on TV really affect the self-esteem of many teenage girls. The reality of the girls in the magazines that are perfectly dressed and have perfect hair and make up is that it is all computerized and styling tricks. Stylists for photo-shoots have clothing tricks for how to make the model look thinner. Photographers have special lighting tricks to cast shadow that make models thinner and contour their face. The models in the magazines are not always perfect.
The thin body image that the fashion industry portrays is unhealthy for teenagers in the U. S. today and it is resulting in low self-esteem and eating disorders. This especially affects models ages 16-21 because they are under the direct pressure from the fashion business. Many young models are malnourished and have unhealthy sleep and eating habits. A new study by the Model Health Inquiry was put to action in 2007. The study found that “as many as 40% of models may currently suffering from some kind of eating disorder”. Anorexia and bulimia are the most common eating disorders among models.
However another eating disorder is Binge Eating Disorder. A new research in 2012 has found that many women have been disguising vegetarianism for their eating disorder. An article by The Huffington Post stated “researchers found that 52 percent of women with a history of eating disorders had been vegetarians at some point in their lives. In contrast, only 12 percent of women without eating disorders had experimented with a vegetarian diet. ” Vegetarian eating practices are not unhealthy if you treat them right. However some people are abusing the practice.
Models who do not want to draw attention by having a eating disorder will most likely cover it up by saying they are vegetarians. Many people also swear by different eating practices like gluten free diets, vegan, and juicing diets. All these diets can be healthy but unfortunately most people do not treat them right. Many young models especially treat diets poorly because they are not educated about the consequences and risks of these eating habits. The CFDA needs to take action about giving proper education to models regarding diets and eating healthy.
The CFDA is taking small steps towards improving the regulations about the healthcare of models. However these steps need to go from small steps to big steps. Vogue has recently banned models that are too thin and too young. This is one step toward a solution to unhealthy models and young models. Vogue is a leader in the fashion industry and they lead by example. To be in vogue is a goal for most models that want to be successful. If more leading fashion business can encourage young models to be healthier it will be very good step in the right direction for the fashion industry.
This will address the problem of eating disorders and unhealthy habits among models. Although banning models that are too thin could have a slim chance of backfiring on Vogue. Other well-known fashion businesses could use strategies that take business away from Vogue by paying their models more. If they do not have size limitations this could bring more clients to their companies and make Vogue not as popular. If Vogue does not continue to be a leader they will not have a strong enough influence in the fashion industry. Vogue could possibly not make enough so that they have to resort back to hiring any models regardless of size or health.
Although they are taking the right steps toward promoting healthier models it could have drastic results as well. The CFDA is the leader in the fashion business. They need to take responsibly for the health and education of young models. Although each agency has different rules they must all comply with the CFDA standards. Although the CFDA made new regulations about the New York fashion week they need to apply those regulations to the fashion industry as a whole. What good is it going to make rules for one week and then go back to the old standards post fashion week? This is a weak effort and should be enforced better.
If the CFDA wants to make improvements to their standards and promote healthy lifestyles for young models they need to embrace a stronger tactic to addressing this issue. They need to enforce the new regulations by having strict rules at photo shoots and runway shows and having someone there to enforce the rules. Any rule breaking could also have worse consequences and therefore prevent agencies from bending the rules. New improvements will understandably take time but the CFDA need to take a stronger approach in order to help young models stay healthy and have a good education.