The image on ABC Television
is shocking. A young model faints on Israeli television before being rushed to the hospital. She weighs barely 60 pounds.
Now that model, Hila Elmalich, is dead and the photographer shown cradling her is blasting the fashion industry saying he can no longer be quiet about its unrealistic portrayal of women.
This is not the first death attributed to the modeling industry. 22-year-old model Luisel Ramos died during Fashion Week in August. She reportedly lived on lettuce and diet drinks. Then 21-year-old Ana Carolina Reston died when she hit a weight of 88 pounds at 5’8 with a BMI of 13.5.
Photographer Adi Barkan, calls the women “fashion mannequins” that are being used to sell a beauty ideal. Calls from girls suffering from anorexia flooded a television station recently after he did an interview.
Partially because of Barkan’s protests, Israel has became the first nation to pass laws requiring a model have a healthy body mass index (BMI) or 19 or above. The National Institutes of Health helps you calculate your BMI.
Using BMI, a 6’ male at 200 pounds is overweight with a BMI of 27.1. That same man at 180 pounds is within the normal range.
A 5’8” woman weighing 120 pounds is considered underweight. A 5’6’’ woman at 115 pounds is at the edge of being underweight for her height. A healthy BMI would mean that a 5’9” woman would have to weigh at least 129 pounds.
Spain requires women to have a minimum BMI of 18 to participate in Madrid’s Fashion Week. Italy requires woman prove they do not have an eating disorder. The World Health Organization suggests women keep their BMI above 18.5.
In New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America failed to set a minimum BMI requirement but urged designers to promote a beauty is healthy message. Designers have long felt that curves on a model distract from clothes. The exception is Victoria’s Secret where models curves are on display to accentuate the undergarments.
According to the Academy for Eating Disorders, anorexia and bulimia are serious mental disorders affecting at least 10 percent of late adolescents and adult women and it urges the fashion industry to take responsibility for the image it imparts and implement regular medical evaluations of models.
While parents have long complained that their message pales in comparison to the message by the fashion industry, at least one advertiser is listening.
“Talk to your daughter before the fashion industry does,” is a very effective campaign by ad agency Ogilvy & Mather.
An little red-headed girl looks at the camera, with the music “Here It Comes” playing quietly. Then the
of rapid fire ad about fashion, surgery, weight gain and loss.
A great deal of information is imparted in the 60 second spot for the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Dove found in a poll that only 13 percent of women are very satisfied with their body weight and shape. In that same poll, only 2 percent of women around the world consider themselves beautiful and more than half said their bodies disgust them.
That’s powerful fuel of discontent for any manufacturer to use to its advantage. Part of the campaign’s message teaches young girls how to become more discerning consumers of media content that delivers the bulk of the “thin is in” message.
In a task force report, the American Psychological Association links the underweight message to the “sexualization” of young women.
It encourages age appropriate media messages be created to avoid associated mental health problems that plague young female media consumers such as low self-esteem and depression.