Victoria’s Secret Diets and the Size Zero Situation
As last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show closed its curtains, Adriana Lima revealed that walking down as an Angel takes hefty preparation. For five months prior to the show, she went on a strict diet and ramped up her intense workouts with a trainer to seven days a week, and then for the full two months before the show, she did her trainer-assisted workouts twice a day. On top of that, for nine days prior to the show, Lima took on a protein shake-only diet. For twelve hours prior to the show, she ate and drank nothing. “No liquids at all, so you dry out. Sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,” she said.
7 out of 10 girls in grades 5-12 said they get their idea of a “perfect body” from models in magazines.
Starvation among models is no longer surprising. In fact, most people are aware that eating disorders are quite common in this profession. According to the Model Health Inquiry, over 40% of models are victims of eating disorders. While the most talked about eating disorder among models is Anorexia, the most common among them is really Bulimia. These eating disorders have taken a toll not only in models’ health, but also their lives.
The modeling industry has encountered death after death. Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston passed away in Sao Paolo after battling anorexia and bulimia. She weighed only 88 pounds then. Uruguayan Luisel Ramos died during a fashion show in Montevideo, Uruguay. She was anorexic and weighed 97 pounds. Reston and Ramos are only two of several models who met death because of eating disorders. They are only two of the many women around the world who have starved themselves due to distorted standards of beauty.
“Models are under increasing pressure to be thinner and thinner, and younger and younger.”
Women’s magazines provide the definition of beauty, ultimately influencing young girls’ self-esteem. In fact, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorder stated that 7 out of 10 girls in grades 5-12 said they get their idea of a “perfect body” from magazines. While self-esteem and perfectionism are only two of the many factors causing eating disorders, these are highly cultural factors that are shaped by key influencers of society.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), led by influential designer Diane von Furstenberg, addressed this issue when they wrote a letter to the fashion community on the issue of unhealthy fashion models. Released prior to the opening of New York Fashion Week, the letter articulates the gravity of the situation and provides concrete guidelines to help alleviate the problem. Some of these are providing healthy snacks backstage during shoots and shows, providing health education, and implementing an age limit for runway shows.
In their letter, Diane von Furstenberg admitted that the demands of the fashion industry influence fashion models’ self-esteem. It stated: “Designers generally produce only one sample size for the runway, and in the last decade there has been a dramatic downward shift in the sample size of some of the top design houses. As a result, models are under increasing pressure to be thinner and thinner, and younger and younger.”
While this letter is a start in addressing the problem, there is a long, long way to go for the fashion industry. After all, runway modeling is just one aspect of modeling. There are also the magazine shoots, advertisements, and catalogues. These involve not only designers but also corporate executives, advertising agencies, and magazine editors. In the big intertwined web of influence within the fashion sphere, how can the size 0 situation really be solved?