From today's Page 6:
SIZE doesn't matter any more to "Grey's Anatomy" star Sara Ramirez , who plays Dr. Callie Torres. "There's catered food everywhere you look - I gained 25 pounds in four months," the big-boned hottie tells January's Glamour. "Nobody ever said, 'You're getting a little heavy.' Instead, they wrote scenes for me to dance around half-naked in my underwear. I went to Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer, and said . . . 'Why me? . . . She just looked at me and said, 'Work it.' " Ramirez did, and is comfy as a size 12.
She's comfy....And we're all grateful! But why'd they have to call her "big-boned"? She's actually "normal sized." More importantly, however, where does she get her clothes.....
The Italian fashion industry came out with a "charter" yesterday that contains some good news. First, they are banning the use of models under the age of 16. It's shocking, in the first place, that children are pulled away from their homes and schools to pursue work in such a taxing and mercurial industry. However, as a preliminary step, this is better than nothing, and certainly better than a minimum age of 14.
Second, models will be required to show proof of health or be barred from fashion shows. The charter also says that those models with "apparent eating disorders" will also be barred. What this health certificate will actually mean is anyone's guess. Unlike Madrid, there appears to be no specific minimum BMI required, only that BMI will be one of several health criteria. I can't help but wonder if there will be unscrupulous doctors who will certify the health of models, whether they are healthy or not. Maybe those same doctors who used to prescribe diet drugs to help already thin young models to lose weight.
Is this progress? Well, at least prominent Italians in the fashion industry are no longer saying bone-headed things like only one model in a hundred is too skinny. Mario Boselli, the head of the Italian National Fashion Chamber, who uttered that statement a few months ago looked pretty stupid when another model died of anorexia related complications. It's no surprise that Boselli and his industry have begun to explore self-regulation. To do otherwise would leave them vulnerable to criticism every time a model faints during a show in Milan.
On Tuesday, Diane von Furstenberg of wrap-dress fame and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, sent CFDA members a letter urging them to address the issue of underweight models! The previous week, fashion insiders like Anna Wintour, Vera Wang, and Derek Lam, got together with health and nutrition experts to discuss the same thing. When your employees start dying -- like Luisel Ramos and Ana Carolina Reston -- it's time to consider whether or not there's something flawed in your industry.
Per the LA Times, Von Furstenberg wrote that ultra thin models are a "global fashion issue." Moreover, "as designers, we cannot ignore the impact fashion has on body image. We share a responsibility to protect women, and very young girls in particular, within the industry, sending the message that health is beauty."
I think it's great that the industry is finally recognizing that many of the demands made on models are unhealthy and may have lasting, adverse effects. To expect a 16 year old model from Moldavia or Uruguay, who may be her family's primary bread-winnder, to adopt a sensible diet in the face of industry pressure to remain stick-thin, is outrageous. The fashion industry must acknowledge its role in the eating disorders and other health issues that these young girls acquire.
Of course, emphasizing the use of healthy models on the runway is a necessary first step. However, the fashion industry needs to go one step further. They need to consider the broader impact of their sizing and marketing practices on the public. What is the message that Von Furstenberg herself is sending when her clothes are only available through size 12?
What does it take before the Italian fashion industry realizes that girls are starving themselves to model? Apparently one death due to anorexia is not enough. According to The Independent, when Madrid imposed its minimum BMI requirement on models:
"Italy initially refused to take action. Mario Boselli, the head of Italy's Camera Nazionale della Moda, which represents houses such as Prada, Versace, and Armani, said: "Our models have no need of regulation." But following the death of a second model, the Brazilian Ana Carolina Reston, in November, the chamber has had second thoughts. The 21-year-old, who was 5'8" tall, weighed just over six stone at her death."
Unfortunately, the Italian Fashion Industry didn't come to this conclusion on its own. It was harangued by the Italian minister for youth, Giovanna Melandri, to consider self-regulation.
There is a January deadline for establishing rules, so that they can be implemented ahead of February's fashion week in Milan.
All hope that "the greatest number possible of those in the fashion industry will sign up". "The Camera della Moda will take action against designers who do not respect the manifesto," Mario Boselli said. "They could be removed from the fashion calendar, or in the most serious cases, banned from the fashion week altogether."
Let's say Milan imposes the same minimum BMI requirement as Madrid. Namely, 18. The models will remain awfully thin. They just won't have knobby knees and visible collarbones and the look of someone who desperately needs a sandwich instead of a cigarette. And do we really need those things to appreciate beautiful clothes?
Of course, the list of "supermodels" with a BMI below 18 is impressive. It includes Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bundchen, Claudia Schiffer. Fortunately, there are lots of gorgeous women to choose from. And some of them might even eat healthy.
In today's NY Post, there was an item about Anna Wintour, and how she is spearheading an effort to address the issue of anorexia in the fashion industry. Specifically, the NY fashion industry wants to preempt any attempt to regulate the modeling industry as occurred in Madrid, where a minimum BMI was required of all runway models.
The article says:
"Anna held a symposium on the issue, and she's planning another meeting this week," said one model agency chief. "We would much rather come up with a way of self-policing ourselves than have regulations rammed down our throats."
Of course they'd prefer to self-police. But this is the industry that created the problem in the first place. Can they really come up with an appropriate and healthy solution when many designers believe that they need clothes hangers with legs to effectively model their clothes on the runway? Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani and Valentino are among the most vocal offenders. Prada and Gucci are among the most visible.
Hopefully, the Americans will be smarter about the health of the young women who model than the Europeans. And hopefully, self-policing will be enough. If a model were to collapse at a show during New York's Fashion Week (as did Luisel Ramos during Fashion Week in Uruguay), there's no doubt that the government would step in.
Both the models and the customers need to be protected from the unhealthy practices of the fashion industry.
Kate Winslet is both talented and smart. In an interview with BBC's "Sunday AM" program, she had some strong words about the use of underweight models. She finds the use of ultra-thin models and actresses very unsettling, and as a result, she does not let her 6 year old daughter look at magazines that feature such pictures.
“It’s only a matter of time before she becomes aware of it, and it frightens the life out of me,” Winslet said of her daughter, Mia.
Discussing impressionable preteens and teens, Winslet noted:
“They’re trying to figure out who they are, and they want to be loved, and what I resent is that there is an image of perfection that is getting thinner and thinner, and it’s truly upsetting to me.”
“I hope that in some small way I’m able to say, ‘I’m a normal person, I’m doing all right.’ I’ve got a lovely husband and children and I didn’t lose weight to find those things, and those things are what should be important.”
When will the fashion industry come to a similar conclusion?
Finally, the fashion industry seems to be acknowledging that its use of extremely skinny models might be unwise. The Italian government and the trade organization that oversees the twice yearly fashion shows in Milan, announced that were drafting a charter to discourage the use of too-thin models. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Italian fashion industry was finally recognizing its complicity in the spate of recent anorexia cases.
Mario Boselli, the head of the National Chamber for Italian Fashion was quoted saying:
"We believe we can favor models with a sunny, Mediterranean image, not fragile young women," Mr. Boselli said in an interview. "Optimistic-looking models are in line with Italian fashion."
The article noted that:
Italian fashion houses such as Prada and Gucci have been among the most aggressive in pushing the ultra-thin image in fashion capitals such as New York, Paris and Milan.
However, what may drive change is an initiative from American fashion magazines. Cosmopolitan, for instance, is now featuring women who wear size 6 or 8, instead of more typical model fare of size 2 or 4. Moreover, fashion designers are beginning to address the issue of weight. Alice Roi, a fashion designer, believes that the fashion industry will employ healthier looking models.
The final words go to Tom Julian, the senior VP and director of trends at McCann Erickson. Julian noted:
"If discussion of this topic continues in a global sense, it will challenge the American marketplace to rethink this -- we could see a visual shift from perfect models and aspirational lifestyles to more reality-based imaging."
What's the best thing to happen to chiropractors in a long time? The introduction of oversized handbags. The NY Times interviewed several chiropractors and massage therapists about the impact of huge handbags, and found the following:
“At the end of the day, handbags are one of the biggest culprits for back pain right now,” she said. “For a year patients have been coming in to me with these giant purses and complaints of soreness. This will keep happening until the trend dies down.”
Several fashion victims were interviewed, and they were uniformly insistent on carrying their huge bags, even if the bags made their lives more difficult and painful:
“I’ve suffered major back, neck and shoulder pain from carrying heavy bags,” said Kimberly Whalen, 37, a literary agent in New York who recently bought the ubiquitous black Chanel carryall, which more than one fashion Web site has compared to a trash bag. “I’ve even had M.R.I.’s and cortisone treatments to help alleviate the problem.”
Sasha Charnin Morrison, 42, the fashion director at US Weekly, admitted that her bags are so large that she often gets stuck in revolving doors. “They may not be practical, but so what?” she said. “When it comes to fashion, being practical is a huge bore.”
The spine experts at the American Chiropractic Association recommend that a bag (and its contents) weigh less than 10% of its owners bodyweight. So....pass on the Yves Saint Laurent Muse. Skip the Miu Miu Coffer. And run from the Chloé Paddington which comes complete with enormous metal padlock.
If you're thinking about being a fashion-victim and carrying a huge designer bag, remember that it's not just your wallet that will suffer.