Alexandra Schulman is banning models who are under 16 years of age or "who are showing obvious signs of an eating disorder" from her pages. She castigates designers who only provide sample sizes in size 2 which means that she has to seek the very thinnest models from the agencies who sell their girls to the media.
This follows on from a gentle but increasing wave of editorial changes taking place in Israel, in France and Italy. They are finally cottoning on to the notion that they have some resonsibility for the epidemic of poor body image and weight anxiety that is afflicting their readers.
Two anorexic women writing in the Daily Mail, May 5th 2012 described how their anorexia was induced by their obsession at looking the skinny models in fashion magazines. Is this true? This is not a good argument for banning skinny models. As I have written in an earlier post, skinny models don't cause anorexia; if they did millions of women would have anorexia. Thinspiration and obsessional looking at fashion pics simply reinforce an illness which is already there. Women who are obsessed by looking at fashion magazines need to have an hour with an expert to show how these images are digitally altered. The pictures by and large aren't real.
The big challenge is, how we can teach our girls and our boys how to look at these fabulous icons, these long legs, skinny thighs, plasticated boobs and chiselled stomachs without automatically coming to the conclusion that "I am ugly". Just try this, step out into the street and count how many perfect bodies you will see. Not all that many.
There will always be someone you can find who is thinner than you, or stronger with bigger muscles or nicer hair. Even though I'm an eating disorder therapist who should fully understand, I am sometimes at a loss about addiction to fashion magazines, images of perfection and people who covet boobs made of industrial plastic.
We have an internal mirror that only needs to be taken out from time to time. If we keep on looking into it and sighing, like Narcissus, we will fade away and die.