The increasing demand for advertising and marketing campaigns for the fashion industry has been met with an influx of models and model agencies. As of 2022, the model agency market in the US is worth $1.6 billion every year with an expected growth of 1.9% next year. Although recent years have affected profits, the industry has recovered with just a 0.6% average loss from 2017. With fashion continually evolving to accommodate new trends and interests, it’s no wonder that modeling remains a growing industry.
To keep up with fashion demand, many modeling agencies have set general size requirements to ensure they stay consistent with their desired results, which is why models must keep their bodies in tip-top shape. Food and eating techniques are considered one of the main reasons people’s bodies change— which is why fashion models typically draw firm boundaries on what they can or cannot eat. This strict body standard has made the industry much more competitive, with some models taking drastic measures to keep their jobs.
Risk of body image issues eating and disordersOne of the reasons why the fashion industry is driving a singular body standard is the lack of diversity in media. Our post on representation notes how there is a lack of images of people with different backgrounds or physical characteristics, becoming a misrepresentation of what the world looks right. In fact, up until the 2010s, most magazine covers were of white women. Although modern-day media has become more accommodating of underrepresented groups such as people of color or the LGBTQ+ community, being skinny has remained a popular beauty standard since the 1920s.
As a result, many models, both professional and aspiring, still feel the social pressure to meet this thin ideal, which has led to poor eating habits to keep themselves below a certain weight. A study on eating disorders found that many young women aspiring to be fashion models had higher stress levels and increased body dissatisfaction, leading to a greater risk of clinical eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Many suffer from health consequences due to being underweight, such as irregular menstruation and anxiety. Although the fashion industry will unavoidably remain competitive, consumers and models should advocate for changing the negative perception of food.
Food is often perceived as the epicenter of body concerns (e.g. “fattening”), which is why it’s contentious in the fashion industry. However, sustainable eating programs now consider food and nutrition as part of the bigger picture when it comes to overall wellness. Ultimately, there are no “good” or “bad” foods, just nutritious or less nutritious ones. Diets don’t need to deprive people of their favorite foods; they can still achieve results like weight loss without sacrificing their meals. The study, as mentioned earlier, notes that models can start overcoming any psychological problems arising from this high-pressure environment by working with skilled health workers. Through these professionals, models can change unhealthy diets and optimize their daily nutritional intake to meet their profession’s requirements.
Another step towards a good perspective on food is increased diversity in modern media. The modeling world is now accommodating a greater variety of models, including plus-size models. Not only do they better represent the general population, but they also serve as positive examples of healthier eating. While thinner models would have shunned carbohydrates in their meals, plus-sized models work to keep their bodies healthy and in good shape through exercise and nutritious diets.
As more body-positive movements are normalized, healthy eating can become a tool for meeting the ideal body standard. This can inspire good habits in models and consumers, allowing the fashion industry to play a part in improving people’s lives.
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