Sunday, November 25, 2007

Anorexic Model Dies of Heart Failure

This isn't getting a lot of coverage in the media, I picked up the article from Shapely Prose and the F-Word blogs. There have been two high profile deaths amongst runway models in the past few years:

"In August, 22-year-old Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos died during Fashion Week in Montevideo after reportedly surviving on lettuce and diet drinks.

A few months later, it happened again. Twenty-one-year-old Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston, who was 5'8", was reported to have weighed just 88 pounds at the time -- that's a BMI of 13.5."

and this new one makes me wonder if this is a new trend, or an old trend that was hushed up for many years. Of course most of us remember Twiggy, the British model who set the new standard of extreme thin in the fashion industry, which women are now dying to surpass.

"When Israeli fashion model Hila Elmalich died last week after years of fighting anorexia, she weighed less than 60 pounds."

To put it in perspective, that's an average weight for a six year old child.

In response, Israel is actually putting standards in place where by law a model must have at least a BMI of 19. It would be much more difficult, but more effective as far as public health is concerned, to require all models to undergo screening for disordered eating, because a model with a large bone structure can be seriously anorexic at a BMI of 19. The BMI scales does not take bone structure or muscle mass into account, and is therefore a really, really poor gauge of body fat content. It is an even worse gauge of health, as many professional athletes are considered overweight or obese by the BMI scale.

What I really have to ask about, however, is how her employers could have possibly overlooked her condition. Or could it be that they didn't care? One was quoted in the article as saying that a woman with curves drew attention to her body and away from the clothes. Therefore they like to use extremely thin women who didn't detract from the clothing they modeled. Isn't that a backhanded way of saying they don't want the models to be prettier than the clothes? So why are they held up as standards of beauty?

I say again, bravo to Jean-Paul Gaultier for standing against the tide. Even if it is only a promotional gimmick :-)

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