While people ogle at the Victoria Secret models as they strut across the stage, they never seem to look deeper into their lives than their bodies. Models are not robotic mannequins who are programmed to walk down the runway then power down. Models are people too, and they are damaged just as much as the rest of us, and those watching these shows must realize that.
These women and men who devote their lives to runway modeling seem to have it all: looks and popularity. What else could they want?
However, if you take a look into their lives, you will find the horrors that lie within.
Out of 85 models surveyed, 24% were using weight loss pills, and 8% were forcing themselves to throw up, according to MedicalExpress.com.
Just because some magazines chose to put a plus-size model on the front page doesn’t mean that suddenly the modeling industry doesn’t care about physical appearance anymore. They do, and it’s a problem that these models must face.
Models are taking extreme measures for weight loss because their employers are forcing them to do so. Of course, their employers aren’t flat out saying “get an eating disorder”. They are saying to these models, who are already healthy and beautiful, to lose weight, or else they will lose their job. Not wanting to be fired, these models are resorting to alarming ways of losing weight, which are detrimental to their bodies in the long run. Some consequences of having an eating disorder include infertility, permanent damage to your heart, and possibly death. These disorders impact their lives even if they get better.
For instance, the Washington Post reported in 2007, that two sisters, both Uruguayan models, died within one month of each other with the same cause of death, a heart attack caused by anorexia. This goes to show that no matter the risks of these methods, models are doing them anyways, and putting their lives in danger.
To combat these eating disorders, the French Health Minister Marisol Touraine stated that the French Health Organization is going to implement a standard body mass index that must be obtained and followed by models. By doing this, models will have to go through a medical examination in order to calculate their body mass index (BMI) to see if they are suffering from an eating disorder. Their body mass index must be the acceptable BMI or actions would be taken to correct it to the “normal” number, which is 18.
Against this, model Lyndsey Scott spoke to Cosmopolitan and pointed out that not everyone is going to have the same BMI and be healthy at the same time. Some people that have eating disorders could still have the recommended BMI, while others who don’t could fall under the standard amount and still be perfectly healthy. Therefore, this system for checking models for eating disorders is flawed.
Instead of making assumptions based on models’ weight, modeling agencies should send their models to monthly check ins with psychologists to look for signs for the eating disorders.
If people use this method, it could mean a much more precise diagnosis of eating disorders in the modeling industry. It could also help diagnose other mental problems models face in their lives, like low self-esteem.
To elaborate more on this topic, a Nigerian model, Adesuwa Aighewi, told Vouge, “All the models that I know, we all have self-esteem problems… Imagine the whole world judging every pore of your entire body. Who trained you how to cope with that?” By sharing this with the world Adesuwa gave us an insight of what type of criticism models receive every day.
Without being taught how to cope with this intense judgement, many models develop self-esteem issues and suffer in silence. They believe that if they do speak up about their mental health they will be fired. This is because the industry implements the idea that they are replaceable into their minds.
Even when models do break free from this destructive industry and quit, they don’t have any more life left in them. The industry drains every good thing out of these men and women and leaves them to be empty shells of who they used to be.
This fear of being fired and replaced is the backbone of most of these mental problems in models.
These men and women are not just random people who you have nothing to do with. They are daughters, brothers, neighbors, and parents. Models’ families and friends are just as affected by models’ mental health as the models. This is because the friends and family have to witness these struggles that models go through, and slowly watch the person they know so well slip away.
Maybe if modeling agencies didn’t threaten to fire models if they don’t look a certain way there wouldn’t be as many mental health crises on the runway.
Nevertheless, models need to know that we support them, and both their mental and physical health matters, not just their looks.