[Hot Topic] Models and Anorexia: A Controversial Campaign

This campaign (shown below), in the January issue of Plus Model Magazine, has stirred up plenty of controversy. With the year just beginning, this may be one of the most controversial campaigns on weight we've seen.

Throughout recent history, anorexia and modeling seem to catch plenty of attention due to health concerns and the public image. Especially when the girls you see in campaigns and the runway seem to have an unattainable figure. The public argues that this is not a healthy image to reflect into the public eye, especially for girls growing up who try to base their identity on what they see.

With the apparent demand for more 'realistic' models, there have been plenty of interesting campaigns in the past. This recent campaign has taken an interesting twist with these images.

Be sure to read the text of each shot. They seem to insinuate more than what is read at face value.

“Twenty years ago, the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less,” one of them expresses.

What they are trying to say is that due to anorexia, the size of the model has gone down and the models of today are not healthy. This is misleading. The reason for this statistic is that the size of the model hasn't fluctuated that much, however the size of the average woman has gone up tremendously, thus the statistic. So the word play is there to let the viewers interpret them on their own. It's not as clear as the concise quotes have you believe. Were they done intentionally? This is where the arguments come in.

Many of the comments to this spread try to break down what each image is trying to say based on the text, body language and pose of each shot.

Regardless, you would think that people would generally be for a campaign bringing awareness toward anorexia. However, there was plenty of backlash from the general public for this campaign.

One reader claimed that it tried to make women look like weight was the defining principle to what makes a woman what she is. Another states that this promotes an equally unhealthy lifestyle, and being overweight is not the answer to anorexia, leading a healthy lifestyle is.

Decide for yourself, we'd love to hear your thoughts on this campaign.

Do you think this ad is sensationalism? What message do you think it tries to express? Do you think the intended response from the public was exactly what they intended?

[Via source]

From Pratik: 

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25 Comments

This is an amazing article, it was ReTweet'ed instantly....!

I'm sure if Victoria Secret used bigger models there company wouldn't be were they are today. I bet they used photo shop for the adds which kinda goes against what there message is about.

There will always be someone who thinks this way or that way and has something bad to say about a good idea.
I think the intention is a good one and the idea is innovative.
Erez.

i support any campaign with pictures of naked women embracing eachother

Why people always have to go extremes?  Maybe fashion could start promoting health. Not anorexia or "plus" size. Just the healthy sizes which are the most attractive anyway.

Lee Morris's picture

Agreed. Neither of these women look healthy to me.

Patrick Hall's picture

well she can school me in the touch your toes test...wish I could do that

Agreed, it's also a really good photo...

Next question... who defines plus size? It states in the article size 6 to 14 is plus... ummm.... six was average when I was growing up in the late 80's... How is six plus size now? Size one was small... I don't ever remember seeing 0 or 00. I thought my mom was big at size 12... Until there is some accurate cutoff as to what IS plus size... and until everyone agrees on this convo. there will be no consensus... A girl might very well be healthy weight for her height and structure... but wear bigger clothing due to that... Where do these people fit? Yes, healthy is good. Healthy is not defined by size...

it's plus-size relative to a "standard" model, not to general population...

Mark's picture

Can anyone seriously consider these stick thin women as remotely feminine? Isn't it just a case for the 'fashion' industry choosing the display their product in skinny girls and the public just accepting it. If it was such a bad thing, then stop buying their products. I personally won't work with super thin women.

Benicio Murray's picture

Gues what PlusModelMag, chunky girls are just as unhealthy as thin girls. Create a HealthyModelMag and you'll get my support.

The text on the last image says that plus-size models range from size 6 to 14. I don't think that's accusing anyone of anorexia, just pointing out that something is seriously skewed if a size 6 is considered plus-size. Both the models shown look like healthy, beautiful women of very different sizes. The "fat" woman is a size 12, for pete's sake - not exactly overweight, especially since she looks to be almost 6 feet tall!

I'm a 30 year old female 5' 10'' and size a 3.  I eat six times a day.  I've had my thyroid and everything else tested, all fall in a normal range.  How much or little I exercise has never had an effect on my size.   Only pregnancy has.  

I'm  tired of people bashing skinny women.  Everyone comes in different sizes.

As far as photography goes I find people of different size photograph differently.  All shapes have strong and weak points.    Face shapes too.    You don't see campaigns against models with strong jaw lines do you?

tim gallo's picture

aaah, america, the country of extremes. french were always skinny, since "mode" changed to "fashion", russians were always beautiful only in their 10`s~20`s, and being just "skinny" girl never meant to be a model. girls were "pushing" themselves for the society for ages! look at them africans with their long necks! and they look healthy to me! :) there is nothing new in this whole matter.  
 i think this ad made to make noise, not to make any change... maybe just to make the oversized girls to feel a little better (though i don`t see any problem for both sides of the coin)

tim gallo's picture

now why nobody think about it from the other side?
 "20 years ago average model weight 8% less than average woman, now 23% less", so you telling me that the average woman GAINED 15% weight! holy cow!

I don't think sexism comes in to it though.  We guys don't really care if we're big or small, and advertising wise, I don't really pay attention to the male models and their body size at all.

Patrick Hall's picture

what's even more is I bet the skinny model crazy is marketed more towards women than men in the first place.  I love me some thin girls but I don't think they affect me when I buy my own clothes :/

It's probably just me but I kind of feel weird that a the photo that has a quote that says "What's wrong with our bodies anyway?".. Seems to have to much retouching/photoshopping (What ever you want to call it). 

Next question... who defines plus size? It states in the article size 6
to 14 is plus... ummm.... six was average when I was growing up in the
late 80's... How is six plus size now? Size one was small... I don't
ever remember seeing 0 or 00. I thought my mom was big at size 12...
Until there is some accurate cutoff as to what IS plus size... and until
everyone agrees on this convo. there will be no consensus... A girl
might very well be healthy weight for her height and structure... but
wear bigger clothing due to that... Where do these people fit? Yes,
healthy is good. Healthy is not defined by size...

The campaign is rubbish, first of all what is the BMI that classifies you as anorexic? Thats an insane statement because it infers that just because they are under a certain BMI they have an eating disorder (anorexia is a mental disease) which would mean that all body builders and a lot of professional athletes are anorexic and have an eating disorder and are unhealthy.. which they aren't. 
The other 2 posters with statistics on them both fail to take into account that we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic and the average person today is far more overweight then in the past. It does not mean the models are getting skinnier it means we are getting fatter and more unhealthy!

Jacques's picture

So, if the average model weighs on average 23% less (as opposed to 8%) than the average woman today, does this mean that the average woman has gotten fatter by 15%?

The average woman 

see the problem is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder some people might think that this models are ugly, i happen to think they all look good.  Is all about likes, if you like it you will find all the positives in it, if you don't than it does catch your eye.