Tag Archives: CFDA

NY Fashion Week 2013

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And we’re off! NYC fashion week has begun! Over the years, many have begun to actively work towards activism and protection of our models. In 2010, Coco Rocha penned her infamous letter to the NYTimes and in 2011, Sara Ziff created The Model Alliance (more on both here). Amazing strides towards a better and healthier industry. Meanwhile, around the world, Madrid and Israel have imposed industry mandates and government enforced regulations, respectively (more on both here). The United States’ fashion industry continues to be self-regulated. In 2007 the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) took a step in imposing industry guidelines of their own (see here).

This year, however, the CFDA teamed up with Organic Avenue, a juice and health-food retailer well known for their juice cleanses, and is offering models a 50% discount during fashion week. While it is true that the 50% discount is for anything in the stores, not just juice cleanses, paired with Sara Ziff’s report of a Model Alliance survey (that showed 64% of models who responded had been asked by their agents to lose weight, 48.7% had done cleanses and 31% had suffered from an eating disorder), my guess is that the message the majority of models will take away is for them to lose weight for the runway.

We must acknowledge that the CFDA is working to uphold their health initiative guidelines but I wonder if this is effective or if it is a confusing mixed message that perpetuates unhealthy behaviors. What do you think?

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Israel bans underweight models

Passed in March 2012, on January 1, 2013, Israel’s ban on models with a BMI of less than 18.5 went into effect. This is the first government enforced weight-influenced regulation on the fashion industry. Models will also be required to produce a medical report no more than three months old (thus, requiring a quarterly medical evaluation). Additionally, advertisers are required to clearly identify any images that have been digitally altered. I say, “Bravo, Israel, taking this courageous step in the fight against eating disorders!”

At this point in time, the United States has no intention of following suit. The United States’ fashion industry is self-regulated. Steven Kolb, chief executive of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), is quoted to have said that the CFDA has, “never had an approach of mandate or enforce. We create awareness and education.”

To my recollection, the modeling industry began to take sharp notice of these industry dangers back in 2006. To refresh your memory:
Luisel Ramos, the 22y/o Uruguayan model, suffered a fatal heart attack in August 2006. She was 5’9″ tall and weighed 98lbs at the time of her death. She had a BMI of 14.5.
Ana Carolina Reston, the 21y/o Brazilian model, died in November 2006. She was 5’8″ tall and weighed 88lbs at the time of her death. She had a BMI of 13.5.
Eliana Ramos, the 18y/o Uruguayan model, died of malnutrition in February 2007. She was 5’9″ tall and a size 0. Her weight was not disclosed at the time of her death. She was the sister of Luisel Ramos (above), who had passed away the previous August.

In response, in September 2007, the Madrid city council, sponsor of Madrid fashion week, imposed mandates upon runway models. Ultimately, these more stringent mandates would have kept 40% of the models who participated in the 2006 fashion week from participating.

In 2007, the CFDA instituted the following guidelines:

  • Educate the industry to identify the early warning signs in an individual at risk of developing an eating disorder.
  • Models who are identified as having an eating disorder should be required to seek professional help in order to continue modeling. And models who are receiving professional help for an eating disorder should not continue modeling without that professional’s approval.
  • Develop workshops for the industry (including models and their families) on the nature of eating disorders, how they arise, how we identify and treat them, and complications if they are untreated.
  • Support the well-being of younger individuals by not hiring models under the age of sixteen for runway shows; not allowing models under the age of eighteen to work past midnight at fittings or shoots; and providing regular breaks and rest.
  • Supply healthy meals, snacks, and water backstage and at shoots and provide nutrition and fitness education.
  • Promote a healthy backstage environment by raising the awareness of the impact of smoking and tobacco-related disease among women, ensuring a smoke-free environment, and address underage drinking by prohibiting alcohol.
    • Diane von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA, explained that the CFDA has no intention of policing or regulating a model’s weight or her body-mass index (BMI).
    • Diane von Furstenberg: “We create inspirational images and it’s important that we don’t encourage unhealthy behavior. We can promote health and encourage it, empower women and give them role models not by how much you weigh but by de-glamorizing models. Few women can become models and it lasts for a short time. Yes there is a problem and because we are in the business of fashion and image we can help.“ Ultimately, von Furstenberg explained that the responsibility lies with the agencies, not the designers.

What do you think about all of this? What do you feel is the appropriate way to address the dangers of the modeling industry? Should there be mandates? Who is responsible for making them?


next top model contestant’s body likened to “overstuffed luggage”

Australia’s Next Top Model (ANTM) contestant, Alissandra Moone, is underweight, according to the Australian body mass index. Two weeks ago, the 18-year-old was criticized by ANTM judge, Alex Perry, when he likened Moone’s body to “overstuffed luggage.”

Moone feels, “it’s a very bad message to be sending to young girls who watch the show.” She explains,”I know this has happened to other girls in the past but I was shocked when (Perry) said I was too fat.” Moone warns, “I’m only a size eight. There’s going to be a lot of young girls watching this who are bigger than me, and how’s this going to make them feel?”

A spokeswoman for the ButterFly Foundation, which is aimed at educating and supporting people with eating disorders, said: “The (fashion) industry has a responsibility for portraying women of all healthy sizes and in playing a strong educated role in the contribution they make to the serious issue of negative body image. We encourage Top Model to be conscious of the example they set to their impressionable viewers.”

Alex Perry stands by his comments and has refused to apologize. He answered his critics citing “incorrect reporting.” Perry claims to have not commented on Moone’s body shape or body image. Instead, he says that, “[he] was talking about her modelling skills.”

Incidentally, this is just one of countless times that models of various shapes and sizes get feedback such as this. Simultaneously, there have been efforts to govern the participation of models in fashion weeks worldwide.

In 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) set forth industry guidelines in response to the death of Eliana Ramos, a Uruguayan model who died of malnutrition in 2007.

Diane von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA, explained that the CFDA has no intention of policing or regulating a model’s weight or her body-mass index.

von Furstenberg went on to explain that, “We create inspirational images and it’s important that we don’t encourage unhealthy behavior. We can promote health and encourage it, empower women and give them role models not by how much you weigh but by de-glamorizing models. Few women can become models and it lasts for a short time. Yes there is a problem and because we are in the business of fashion and image we can help.“ Ultimately, von Furstenberg explained that the responsibility lies with the agencies, not the designers.

Does calling someone “fat” or “overstuffed luggage” promote and encourage health? Or does it crush self-esteem and create a war between self and body? What a dilemma this presents to models, girls and women! Don’t accept your natural body, don’t become emaciated and your natural body is one that needs to be fought. What do you think about all of this?