More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Health Guidelines Suggested for Models
January 6, 2007
By ERIC WILSON, New York Times

The fashion industry sells modish trapeze dresses and $800 platform ankle boots. But it also sells women an ideal of beauty embodied by the models who walk the runways and appear in fashion magazines.

And since the fall, American designers have been under increasing pressure to respond to a wave of dangerously thin models who have set the aesthetic standards of global fashion.

Now the industry has decided to issue guidelines to designers, aimed at promoting healthier behavior among its highly paid clothes hangers.

The guidelines, which fall short of modeling restrictions announced in recent months by fashion show organizers in Madrid and Milan, were introduced yesterday at a meeting of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in Manhattan. But the group?s recommendations, which will be sent to designers next week in anticipation of the fall fashion shows that begin in New York on Feb. 2, seem unlikely to satisfy many critics of fashion?s embrace of ultra-thinness.

According to participants at the meeting, the recommendations are likely to include scheduling fashion-show fittings with younger models during daylight hours, rather than late at night, to help them get more sleep; urging designers to identify models with eating disorders; and introducing more nutritious backstage catering, where a diet of Champagne and cigarettes is the norm.

There are no plans to require models to achieve an objective measure of health like a height-to-weight ratio, which was imposed by Madrid in September, a move that brought much public attention to the issue. It was further highlighted by the death of Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old Brazilian model, from complications of anorexia in November.

More than two-thirds of respondents to a questionnaire on Elle magazine?s Web site last month said they wished that American designers would follow the recent examples of fashion show organizers in Milan and Madrid in banning overly skinny models.

But the American designers rejected that option as unworkable.

?It is important as a fashion industry to show our interest and see what we can do because we are in a business of image,? said Diane von Furstenberg, the president of the designers? council, the industry trade group. ?But I feel like we should promote health as a part of beauty rather than setting rules.?

The group that tackled the issue also included Anna Wintour, the influential editor of Vogue; several members of her staff; health professionals including a nutritionist, a psychiatrist and a physical trainer; a representative of a modeling agency; and a producer of fashion shows.

Designers and fashion magazine editors, who hire models, and executives for agencies that represent the young women, are skeptical that the profession can be regulated or monitored.

?It?s nothing that we don?t do already,? said David Bonnouvrier, the chief executive of DNA Model Management, speaking of the guidelines. His colleague Louis Chabat, an agent at DNA, attended the fashion council meeting yesterday.

?I hope it will be successful,? Mr. Bonnouvrier said. ?It is a serious enough issue that people will pay attention, but we cannot dictate the designers? choices. There will be a conscious effort for a while to address this, but whether that will last is another issue.?

Madrid?s banning of models who have a body mass index less than 18, a normal body standard according to the guidelines of the World Health Organization, did not initially draw much support among the organizers of shows in the major fashion capitals, until last month, when the Italian group issued what it described as a manifesto.

The new rules in Italy are meant to be applied at fashion shows in Rome this month, although they are not binding and in many cases not entirely understood.

The Chamber of Fashion, based in Milan, is asking that models hold a license issued by a committee of city officials and a panel of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists and other experts. But when proposing that models, who must be 16 to work there, also achieve a minimum body mass index of 18.5, the organizers added that geographical and ethnic considerations should also be considered, which industry professionals found confusing.

?Can you think of another job you would have to talk to a nutritionist, a psychology expert and a doctor to get certified?? asked Roberta Myers, the editor of Elle. ?Maybe the C.I.A.?? Ms. Myers did not attend the American council meeting, but said she supported the idea of guidelines and educational programs because they would raise consciousness of the issue.

?I see this as a good-faith effort on all of our parts,? she said.

Abigail Walch, Vogue?s health editor, who attended the fashion industry meeting, said the group conceived its recommendations independently of Milan and Madrid.

Vogue identified several experts to help educate models on health and fitness. They include a nutritionist, Joy Bauer; a fitness trainer, David Kirsch; and Dr. Susan Ice, a psychiatrist at the Renfrew Center in Philadelphia, which treats eating disorders.

?You cannot say one factor contributes to eating disorders or that one factor resolves them,? Ms. Walch said. ?We should have different avenues for dealing with this issue. We realize there are problems and we want to do everything possible to have resources available to these young girls.?

Restricting models because they do not meet the specific height and weight standards of Madrid, which requires them to have a body mass index higher than 18, would not solve the problem, she said.

?We see models who are thin and getting thinner,? said Ms. Bauer, who contributes nutrition advice to ?The Today Show? and Yahoo in addition to her Manhattan and Westchester County practices. Some models who have been referred to Ms. Bauer?s offices are genetically thin, some come seeking healthy ways to lose five pounds, and some have genuine eating disorders.

?I get this pressure,? Ms. Bauer said. ?The reality is that your entire career is somewhat based on being thin. It?s a tricky thing.?

Ms. Bauer said a goal of the fashion industry recommendations was to encourage healthy behavior among models, but also to educate designers on how to recognize disorders. Ms. Bauer, Mr. Kirsch and Dr. Ice will appear on a panel discussion of the issue during Fashion Week in New York.

She said that the body mass index would not give a fair indication of the healthfulness of models because of their height and age.

?It?s not so much about whether they can be 18 or higher and still look fabulous,? she said. ?I?m not for mandating certain B.M.I.?s because I don?t think that is fair.?

Patrick O?Connell, a spokesman for Ms. Wintour, said: ?The feeling is that it is not realistic to dictate or impose rules on a huge fashion industry. However, we do believe raising awareness and consciousness will go the furthest toward increasing people?s sensitivities to the problem.?

just mary

I don't think they care. They're trying to appear as if they're doing something. It is the fashion industry - they're only concerned with how things look - not how things are. It all seems so superficial.

And the following comment struck me:

The reality is that your entire career is somewhat based on being thin.

This is completely true, their job is to look a certain way - if they don't - they lose their job. Can you imagine being fired if you gained 10 pounds or your face broke out? It must be such a demeaning career, you're essentially an object (eg. a couch before they upholster it) not a person. And some (most) of them aren't even paid that much. However, very few are paid a LOT - which is a whole other issue.

Anyway, just my little rant for the day.


David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
I'm not sure what the answer is, either, and I agree that the fashion industry only "cares" to the extent that they are now getting some negative publicity... but at least we are seeing items like this in the news, finally, anf that itself may do something - if only a little - to counter the perception that the anorexic look is some sort of ideal.

It isn't just the fashion industry either. It's also, to an extent, the film industry, certain sports, dance, etc.

But, as I said, it's a start, however small.

just mary

You're right, its better than nothing.

It kind of like when you're feeling sad, just force a fake smile and eventually that fake smile will become real.


As an eating disorder sufferer, I have a hard time with this.
I think that we often forget the many contributing factors to an eating disorder; there is the social pressure to be thin (seen in models), the mental health aspect, the physical effects of accompanying body dysmorphic disorder, and physical aspects such as thyroid/hormonal problems.
It is easy to say, or at least think, that models are anorexic because they are expected to be so, and yes this is a contributing factor. But our society, and not only the catwalk, is steeped in this.
One can hardly expect these girls to do anything other than what they do, and fashion and society need to make a change of values, not policy. This will be slow... I'm not even sure it's possible. In my opinion, girls and women in western society will always want to be thin whether this becomes problematic for them or not. And that's just the social aspect. If they want these girls to change, they have to walk them through the rest of the illness and not just the social factor.
But deciding suddenly that models should not be anorexic is like getting mad at children for catching colds when playing in the snow. They play outside because they have been told that experience has value (and indeed it does!). A model has been told that being thin has value (regardless of whether or not this is true). The child catches a cold and the girl becomes anorexic or bulimic. Consequences that require a much longer solution than a few health guidelines.
in my opinnion the damage that society has contributed to eating disorders is already out and weather we try to tell them to gain some weight or to stop modeling it won't change anything their pictures are already out there their examples already imbelled into the minds of f people with low self esteem or current anorexics or bulimics that feed of them ..the start would have been a long time ago but that is long ago and well now what we can do is to try to make it a subject of disgution in school as they do with unprotected sex in class they talk about it for a hole month if not more they should talk about it but not as saying they are thin they don't eat they are perfectionnist but as syaing they have difficulties they are depressed they are trying to controle something to make the other probleme go away cause really while they talk about the lack of food the weight loss they perfection it only opens other girls eyes to the only thing they hear in it all the weight loss.. they think oh i am going to try it for a bit when i lose some weight i will stop they need to be informed that it is not so easy to stop..
yours trully ashley


Hell, if I knew where to start, I'd start helping myself.

But, you have a point... it does have to start somewhere. I just don't think that this "start" of forming some health guidelines has the intention of going all the way.

There are many places to start, and I think maybe they all have to happen at once: get rid of the stigma, cleanse the media, make therapy and nutrition counseling readily available and affordable, involve the family, promote fitness for healthy body size, get rid of pro-ana sites on the web, deal with issues of rape, abuse, and sexuality, create an integrated health service that provides treatment in all areas (mental, physical, etc.), create support networks of women with similar problems, make healthy food choices (groceries) affordable, create organizations that provide meal support and supervision to women in outpatient care, involve women in collective kitchens and grocery pools, design clothing that fit healthy women, treat obesity and destroy the "fat monster" in the closet, educate health service providers about eating disorders, deal with disordered eating on regular acute psychiatric wards, train professionals in their approach to patients, circulate stories of recovery, stop covering it up like its not there, provide health guidelines for models (check!), reinforce cultural values that promote (oh gag me....) "inner beauty", have exercise bikes at the gym that do not ask your weight and report your calories burned every 30 seconds, teach others to listen....

I could go on forever. Where do we start? Anywhere I suppose.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Where do we start? Anywhere I suppose.
That is my point. Starting anywhere is better than starting nowhere. I don't think any of us is under the illusion that this is a "cure". But it is a start. Build from there and we may have something.
i guess in some ways it depends the target the starting point of a sufforros disease to know there opinion on were to start for some they were influenced by the models the beauty queens and such therefore they would think to try and abolish the message they are sending but to others it would be thelow self esteem the school atmosphere , the violence and such cause to all there is no the same solution or the same start as for recently there has been many 3 i think models that have died in a short delay from complications of e-d's therefore i see that and think well it is about time they do something .. hey had to wait till the models were dead to stop some of the nonesence the were providing the world.
yours trully ashley

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
New York fashion council says no ban on skinny models

New York fashion council says no ban on skinny models

NEW YORK, Jan 12, 2007 - Despite growing concern about skinny waifs on the catwalk, the top US fashion designers' group said Friday it would not ban underweight models but instead called for more education on eating disorders.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), which founded New York's fashion week and still plays a key role in the event, said it would not follow some European authorities who have set body mass index requirements for models.

"The CFDA Health Initiative is about awareness and education, not policing," the group said in a statement, releasing the guidelines ahead of castings for next month's fashion week.

"Although we cannot fully assume responsibility for an issue that is as complex as eating disorders and that occurs in many walks of life, the fashion industry can begin a campaign of awareness," it said.

It added that being skinny did not necessarily mean models were anorexic.

"While some models are naturally tall and thin and their appearance is a result of many factors, including genetics, youth, nutritional food, and exercise, other models have or develop eating disorders," it said.

"Eating disorders are emotional disorders that have psychological, behavioral, social, and physical manifestations, of which body weight is only one," it added, calling for a more general approach to the problem.

The group recommended educating the industry to identify the early warning signs of eating disorders and suggesting models suffering such conditions be required to seek help before being allowed to continue modeling.

Its suggestions included establishing workshops on the nature of eating disorders, providing regular breaks and healthy meals at shoots and promoting awareness about smoking and underage drinking among models.

The guidelines were drawn up by a CFDA committee composed of designer Diane von Furstenberg, the council's new president, a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, a trainer and a representative from a leading fashion PR firm.

Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and an agent from the top modeling agency DNA also attended the discussions.

The issue of skinny models came to a head last September when Madrid authorities banned models who failed to meet a certain weight to height ratio from a major fashion show to avoid sending the wrong message to young girls.

The debate intensified with the death in November of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston, who suffered from anorexia. Sao Paolo's fashion week has since announced it will run a public information campaign on the condition.

In Italy, authorities and fashion designers last month adopted guidelines banning models if they do not meet a body mass index equivalent to 55 kilos (121 pounds) for someone measuring 1.75 meters (five foot seven).

Former CFDA president Stan Herman last year ruled out a ban on skinny models at New York's twice-yearly fashion week, saying such rules could expose the organizers to legal action.

"It would be the same as banning somebody who's too fat," he told AFP in September. "Those people could sue... I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole."

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
National Eating Disorders Association Reacts

National Eating Disorders Association Reacts to 'Guidelines' Announced Today by Council of Fashion Designers of America

SEATTLE, WA, January 12 / MARKET WIRE/ -- The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reacted today to the Council of Fashion Designers of America's newly announced "guidelines" to promote health and wellness among models, a demographic notoriously predisposed towards eating disorders.

Those recommendations include: education on the early signs of eating disorders; requiring models with eating disorders to seek professional help; not permitting models with an eating disorder to work without a doctor's approval; and improving nutritional content of food catered backstage at fashion shows.

Fashion designers in Milan and Madrid have banned overly thin models, adopting a height-to-weight ratio, using the BMI Index. But the American Council's response falls far short of those actions.

"The National Eating Disorders Association applauds the Council of Fashion Designers of America for opening a dialogue," said Lynn Grefe, CEO of NEDA. "But we urge them to further their influence and control beyond that of a 'guideline.' Simply making a suggestion is a band-aid on a much larger wound. Our concern is, who is going to monitor this program? What are the next steps? Eating disorders kill. For the sake of the models themselves and the young women who look up to them, change is vital. The fashion industry does not cause eating disorders, but to a young girl predisposed to an eating disorder, these images are like handing them a loaded gun."

Studies have shown that fashion models and magazines significantly influence the self-esteem of teenagers and young adults -- particularly females. Ever since the mid '60s, when 16-year-old British model Twiggy, at 5'7" and 91 pounds, hit U.S. shores and became the first supermodel, the self-image of women has never been the same. Today, the average American woman is 5' 4" tall and weighs 140 pounds, yet the average American model is 5' 11" and weighs 117 pounds, making them thinner than 98 percent of women in this country.

Said NEDA Ambassador Emme, model, TV host, author, lecturer and clothing designer, who has long promoted healthy body image, "We need to take collective responsibility for this cultural catastrophe and recognize our obligation to not only learn as much as we can about eating disorders but also how our actions influence young women and girls. It is imperative that we not just skim the surface, but dig deeper about unattainable ideals of beauty which can lead to life-threatening diseases with sometimes permanent consequences."

Eating disorders are serious illnesses with a biological basis modified and influenced by emotional and cultural factors. Nearly 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life-and-death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Millions more are struggling with binge eating disorder.

People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem and obsession with weight loss. Pervasive cultural norms and customary media image standards dramatically impact the likelihood of the development of an eating disorder among those who are genetically and environmentally predisposed.

Experts agree that the successful treatment of anorexia -- recently recognized as a mental illness with a biological core by Tom Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health -- requires not only stabilizing the patient's health and redefining their relationship with food, but addressing underlying emotional and mental health issues.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in Seattle, Wash., is a not-for-profit organization advocating prevention, treatment and research funding for eating disorders; expanding public education and awareness; promoting access to quality treatment for those affected; and providing support for their loved ones. Since the inception of its Helpline in 1999, NEDA has referred more than 50,000 people to treatment and tallies more than 40 million hits annually on its Web site. For more information on eating disorders visit

For treatment referrals, visit

Or contact NEDA's live Helpline: 800-931-2237


I am often quite impressed with NEDA... they do a good job of keeping things on track and touching the real issues.
We urge them to further their influence and control beyond that of a 'guideline.' Simply making a suggestion is a band-aid on a much larger wound. Our concern is, who is going to monitor this program? What are the next steps? Eating disorders kill. For the sake of the models themselves and the young women who look up to them, change is vital. The fashion industry does not cause eating disorders, but to a young girl predisposed to an eating disorder, these images are like handing them a loaded gun
This was my point earlier, and it's good to hear it made here... I'm happy to hear it reiterated here... the world is catching on!!!!
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