Today Vogue magazine, in all its international editions, announced that it will stop using models under 16 years of age, and who appear to have eating disorders. See the announcement in the Italian Vogue website, for instance.
“Vogue believes that good health is beautiful,” said Jonathan Newhouse, Chairman of Condé Nast International. “Vogue Editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the wellbeing of their readers.”
The Health Initiative is a project that aims at safeguarding the models - for numerous women an ideal to follow and imitate - to encourage, support and assist them in taking care of themselves, facing all topical themes such as health and food-related issues affecting the fashion world.??
The Vogue editors have drawn up a manifesto comprising the following six key points:??
1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.??
2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns.??
3. We will help to structure mentoring programmes where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative.
4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.??
5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.??
6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.
A truly ground-breaking initiative that will be officially launched with the June issues of all the nineteen Vogue editions involved, with the exception of Vogue Japan that will publish the editorial in the July issue.
There is a certain irony in this move, in that the Vogue Italia cover for April was of with the 14 year old Thairine Garcia, but after getting that one published they were quick to claim the banner of social responsibility.
There are real problems here that are being addressed, but also a good deal of hyperventilation over issues that are not strongly related to the policies of the fashion industry. The whole issue of "eating disorders" has been something of a political football for the last two years, and this, together with an emphasis on model age, is just the manifestation of public and political pressure. Whether it will result in meaningful change remains to be seen.