Over the past week there has been a lot of chatter about Vogue banning underaged models and girls that have eating disorders. I think its a great initiative, but to be perfectly honest, it sounds like another round of lip service and will quickly be forgotten as fast as last season's trends. I hope I am proven wrong.
I worked as a model in the late 80's early 90's in New York Paris and Milan. I remember an episode of 20/20 with Barbara Walters in 1991 interviewing the feminist writer Naomi Wolf ,who had just wrote a book called 'The Beauty Myth'. Ms Wolf was going on saying that "100,000 plus women die of anorexia every year, because of images they see in magazines".
What did she use as an example of the images that cause this epidemic of anorexia?
A picture of ME!
Boy was I floored. How could she say such a thing? She had never met me and didn't know me personally??? First of all, I was and am NOT anorexic. I was beyond shocked and mad at Naomi Wolf for saying that I was 'probably anorexic and probably not menstruating', and for using my picture to illustrate what was causing anorexia in teenagers. Her remarks were hurtful and they offended me. Couldn't have been further from the truth.
Luckily, they interviewed Helen Gurley Brown, (the famed editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine back in the day when they had those amazingly sexy cover photos shot by Francesco Scavullo). She said that models eat like race horses to be able to keep up with their workload and travelling. At least the grand dame of the magazine world was defending me and my fellow models.
For those of you that remember the early 90's in fashion, the look was total Glamazon. The models were a lot curvier and healthier looking than the girls are today. The models that I see in the magazines nowadays are truly retouched within an inch of their lives. We can thank the addiction to Photoshop for that.
I think that to be true to all, the use of Photoshop should be restricted to just touching up ever so slightly, not to reconstruct and misconstrue someones natural body shape. I believe that if Vogue began to limit the use of Photoshop in its editorials, this would also be a step in the right direction. Its needs to be part of their mandate as well. It would also separate the real photographers from the chaff. But thats a whole other blog post.
Banning underage models is to be applauded. Banning models that have eating disorders is also a good initiative, but I can't see how Vogue is going to discern who is naturally slim (ie. Gisele) and who has an eating disorder.
Give us back the fantasy and the beauty of the fashion photo. Fashion is a fantasy, yet it still needs to root itself somewhat in reality.