Cultural / Life

Stamping the Stereotype: Size Zero Models

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Fashion magazines as a whole are grouped and criticised for creating unrealistic images of women, photoshopping and airbrushing their way to the top. The size zero models that we see in high end fashion magazines are now just brushed off as ‘the norm’ but they are having huge impacts on young girls growing up in today’s society. According to The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (bit of a mouthful) 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade (10-17 year olds) reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape and 47% of them had reported wanting to lose weight after seeing them. So it’s not really a surprise to know that 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. And what’s worse, these statistics only count for confessed sufferers. So in reality that figure could be doubled or even tripled after counting those suffering in silence.  The pressures pushed upon our generation by these magazines are more dangerous than we realise.

In 2012, 19 editors of Vogue from around the world came together to launch a project called the Health Initiative to protect and care for the models they use. The editors, headed by Anna Wintour, have made and agreed to stick to their 6 point pact with their main focus – to promote a healthy body image.  They have promised not to employ under 16’s or anyone with an eating disorder to encourage and help models take care of themselves.  The initiative was launched after people on the inside of the fashion industry grew concerned.  When the ex-Australian Vogue editor Kirstie Clements published her book ‘The Vogue Factor’ everyone was shocked to discover these fashion victims were often on the brink of hospitalisation from starvation, eating tissues to curve their hunger, and resorting to surgery when dieting wasn’t enough. All that just to resemble a pubescent 13 year old boy. Is it me that just doesn’t get it?

No, it’s not. In fact many people today are going against the grain and stamping out the stereotype. One of these being writer and feminist, Lena Dunham, who is making her curves a fashion statement. After becoming pally with Anna Wintour – US Vogue Editor – the Internet went crazy at the thought of someone who does not conform to the size zero stereotype gracing the cover of Vogue. However, they went even crazier when they realised Lena’s curves were nowhere to be seen on the cover. That’s right, as soon as we think the Size Zero stereotype is starting to be re-thought, they go and give ‘the face to change fashion history’ a bloody head shot. ‘Oh she’s not stick thin so her body’s not allowed on the cover’. With actions like this is there any hope for young girls self-esteem?

Yes, there is. They’re called bloggers. The real people who willingly put their selves on the internet to talk about whatever they want to talk about. With names such as LLYMLRS, Tanya Burr, Zoella and many more teaching their readers/viewers that it’s okay to not be stick thin, it’s okay to not have perfect skin, it’s okay to be yourself! With the rise of internet stars these bloggers are almost seen as celebrities in their fan’s eyes. So instead of aspiring to have these boy-like figures, we’re looking up to these women of all shapes and sizes and admiring them. And with all of the food they fill my Instagram feed with, I don’t think tissues are gonna cut it…

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