Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eating Disorders: Responsibility in the Fashion Industry

Milan Fashion week. This is a reminder that there is an ethical obligation by professionals in the fashion industry to foster healthy messages on the issue of body image.  According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorder (ANAD) "Eating disorders affect people of both genders, in all age groups and of every racial and cultural background. An estimated 10 million American men have an eating disorder at some time in their lives. Clinical psychologist Roberto Olivardia told NPR, “Over the last five, six years, I’ve been seeing younger and younger boys who are struggling with these problems.”

While research has shown that the fashion industry is not the sole cause there is nonetheless a strong contributing factor when so many young people look to the industry for images of what is considered beautiful. In January 2007 the Council of Fashion Designers of America - chaired by Diane von Furstenberg - developed the Health Initiative . According to the initiative "Members of the fashion industry – modeling agents, designers, magazine editors, stylists, and models themselves – are on the front line with regard to early recognition of eating disorders in our community."

"Organized opposition to the fashion industry’s ultrathin ideal dates back over several decades, when studies began to show that super-thin female images adversely impact girls’ body attitudes and eating behaviors. Four years ago, when several international models died from complications of anorexia nervosa, criticism—and concern—intensified." Read more: Op-Ed by Diane von Furstenberg .

Other supporters of the health initiative - which bans the hiring of models under the age of 16 and requires a healthy body mass index (minimum of 18.5) - are fashion designer Michael Kors and Vogue magazine's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

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