Anorexia and the fashion industry

Anorexia Nervosa is a physiological struggle which describes an eating disorder which is caused by the obsessive fear of gaining weight. It is a condition that goes beyond dieting and when women start starving themselves to slim down. It leads to dramatic weight loss and is certainly life threatening. Society has been obsessed of diet control recently. The dream to have a super slim body is leading to serious disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, the pathological wish of an individual to lose weight at any cost. Anorexia is just the beginning with bulimia and other unspecified disorders being more widespread. Eating disorders affect 10% of the population and the unhealthy obsession of diet control finally takes control of their lives.


Extreme weight loss has serious psychological and physical consequences and in about 5% of the cases leads to death. Anorexia is not a major global issue yet. Nevertheless when we take a closer look at this issue we can see that this is going to take a bigger toll on society.  Women of today have become very weight conscious. Models from fashion magazines and ramp shows have perfectly slim curved body and every woman probably wants to possess a body like theirs. They start with exercising and yoga which are actually positive habits but then it goes to weight-loss diet and then starts severe dieting which can lead to anorexia. Severe dieting starts only when women get obsessed. Anorexics never believe that they are thin enough and that is when they stop the intake of food. No amount of food is small enough and no weight is ever low enough. Most anorexics do not believe that they suffer from an eating disorder. Signs of anorexia include loss of appetite, severe weight loss; irregularities in the menstrual cycle and the physical signs of anorexia include dizziness, insomnia, infections that do not heal, heart failure and numbness in hands and feet. This leads to severe medical problems and even death.


Anorexia and the fashion industry are closely related. The necessity of being thin to the career of a model is what makes so many of them desperately and disgustingly thin and makes them anorexic. A debate about model’s weight has shaken the fashion world in recent days since Madrid banned excessively thin women from its catwalks after accusations their appearance may cause eating disorders in young women. The fashion industry has long been blamed for causing bulimia and anorexia among teenagers with its use of very thin models. Aspiring models tries to become the so called ‘size-zero’ models and they stop eating.


Anorexia is comparatively more common in the European countries that the Asian countries as per statistics. Israeli fashion model Hila Elmalich died on Nov. 14, 2007 of heart failure. The corpse she leaves behind is the average weight of a seven-year old child. Many of us didn’t read about it in the newspapers or hear it on the evening news. I only stumbled upon the news accidentally while I was trying to find examples of anorexia in the world of fashion. I am really astonished to see that there are numerous examples of existing and aspiring models suffering from anorexia! A teenage model whose sister starved her to death has also died of suspected anorexia. Eliana Ramos, 18, collapsed six months after her sister Luisel had a heart attack during a fashion show and triggered an international debate over the use of size zero models on the catwalks. Iconic fashion designer Donatella Versace has disclosed that her daughter Allegra has been suffering from anorexia for many years. The 20-year old heir to the Versace fashion empire, Allegra, is currently studying fashion in New York. The revelation comes at a time when the fashion industry is arguing over the perceived negative effects on women’s health by employing so called ‘size-zero’ models.


Designer Giorgio Armani has blamed stylists and the media for the fashion industry’s obsession with ultra-thin women.In London to host a music and fashion extravaganza with stars Beyoncé, 50 Cent and Bono, Armani said no girl needed to be anorexic to be fashionable. Western fashions and films have given today’s teenagers the idea that thin is beautiful. I agree to this but obsession to lose weight that reaches the stage of anorexia is not beautiful! When we think of the fashion industry words like ‘beauty’; ‘elegance’; ‘style’ and ‘perfection’ comes into our mind. Fashion is beauty of manner, form and style. However these adjectives are certainly not synonymous with anorexia.


The initial step to help these anorexic girls is to make them realize the fact that they are suffering from this disease and that the problem actually exists. Thin and weak does not equate beautiful.


Seeking help from a nutritionist definitely helps. Anorexia is a grave psychological and physical state that needs medical treatment and rehab.


Upasana Mallick.



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