Fashion’s Responsibility

2 comments | January 4th, 2012

(story by OOC via HuffingtonPost)
This first appeared in HuffPo back in September.  While it may have been more of a news story then, it's (sadly) no less topical or relevant now.  The CFDA is trying to embrace their role and responsibility, which is nothing short of great.  We look forward to some of the other major (and minor) players in the worlds of popular culture doing the same.  From the original article:

"When the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) re-released its health guidelines earlier this year, it called for increasing awareness about eating disorder symptoms and recommended a ban on models younger than 16 walking in fashion shows. The goal was industry-specific: To address what the council's website calls the "overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin."

But as CFDA CEO Steven Kolb acknowledged, fashion's influence is broader than that.

"As Diane [Von Furstenburg, CFDA president] and I wrote in our outreach letter to the industry … 'Fashion Week has become a powerful voice, which reaches millions of people across the globe and we should not underestimate the consequences of the messages that we send,'" Kolb said in an email to HuffPost.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, nearly 70% of girls in grades 5 – 12 said magazine images influence their ideals of a perfect body. In so-called "pro-anorexia" forums, posters write about watching fashion shows and combing magazines for "thinspiration." "

The article goes on tod discuss both the data and absence of data that correlates a driect link between these images and the causation of eating disorders.  As we here @OOC HQ have come to understand iut 9and if we get it wrong, please tell us below), it's less a matter of our cultural fixation on thin is causing eating disorders, but playing a role in triggering them in those predisposed.  The article picks up here:

"Much research has suggested a relationship between the two, though Dr. Anne E. Becker, a professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School…has concentrated on Fiji, where she found the arrival of the television corresponded with, among other things, an increase in disordered eating, including vomiting to lose or control weight. A follow-up study found that second-hand or peer exposure was particularly powerful, with friends discussing, copying and internalizing media images."

"With Fashion Week, and all of those thin models, and clothing that looks best on a size zero — what that does is set a standard of what is socially desirable and prestigious that is likely to have a powerful influence on social norms," she said. "If one day we had a Fashion Week where there were size 16 models, I suspect that would be very influential, too." (read the original – and unedited by us – piece here.)

You know where we stand on this.  We think Madison Avenue, 7th Avenue, Hollywood are indeed responsible.  Not solely, but individually and collectively.  What do you think?  Tell us in the comment, and for more data or support on eating disorders, please go check out our friends at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/, and please join them and OOC in supporting #The Self-Esteem Act.