Vogue's fashion editors calls for 'healthy' body image


Vogue front cover

Nineteen international editors from fashion magazine Vogue have jointly agreed to a pact where they they will only work with "healthy" models.

The guidelines appear in the UK magazine's June issue to encourage a healthier approach to body image.

UK editor of Vogue magazine, Alexandra Shulman, said: "We have to have a conversation with designers, models and take the message out to schools.

"We can make a difference but won't change things overnight."

Model agents are not dishonest about the girls' eating habits but they can be a bit flexible with the truth
Alexandra Shulman
Editor, UK Vogue magazine

The fashion industry has been criticised in the past for using models that some say promote unrealistic body types and help contribute to eating disorders among women.

The editors have agreed to ask modelling agents to check IDs and say they will "not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder".

Alexandra Shulman said: "Model agents are not dishonest about the girls' eating habits but they can be a bit flexible with the truth over all aspects of the girls."

She said that while it was impossible to be completely scientific about the health of a girl, the magazine did not want to use pictures of girls with eating disorders.

"Sometimes I will say to photographers, 'She looks too thin' and we won't use her."

In 2009, she also criticised fashion houses for sending sample clothes too small for many models to wear.

She said that she was frustrated that the industry hadn't acted.

"Nothing has changed monumentally about sample sizes and I am disappointed as it would be a good starting point," she said.

'Like cattle'

In the pact, Vogue editors have now promised that they will "encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing... [because it] encourages the use of extremely thin models".

Eating disorders: The statistics

    • It is estimated that one in 100 women aged between 15-30 have anorexia
    • Eating disorders are around 10 times more common in females than males
    • 1.6 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder. 10% suffer from anorexia and 40% suffer from bulimia

Earlier this year, Israel brought in laws on using skinny models on the catwalk and in adverts.

However, Alexandra Shulman said that she was against a similar move in the UK.

"I am very anti any legislation," she said. "The idea that you start weighing in girls and checking the body mass index is treating them like cattle.

"It goes too far. It's not to do with how much someone weighs. This is to do with healthy eating."

Eating disorder charity beat described the pact as a positive step.

"We are pleased to see the doyennes of fashion taking their responsibilities seriously because they influence young people," it said in a statement.

"We would like these proposals to be far-reaching and followed across the whole industry."