Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pro-Ana on MySpace, YouTube, and the Allure Message Boards?

Fashionista posted about their discovery of a pro-anorexia network that is one of many, many others popping up all over MySpace and YouTube (Parents: looking for another reason to keep a close watch on your kids' internet use?). The piece prompted some heated debate and insightful comments, including this one:

"I hate to say it, because I love fashion, but I think people who say the fashion world isn't partly to blame for these scary ideals are deluded. I am 17 and consider myself to be fairly confident and intelligent, but yes; I do feel inadequate in my size 6 jeans when every successful model or actress in my age group looks like she has an eating disorder..."

The way we see it, Kendall should continue to share her opinions because of her love of fashion, not in spite of it. And we should all listen up. The industry doesn't have any control over the fact that sick and troubled young women are finding each other online, but we do have control over how we respond. These MySpace pages are plastered with photos of working models and actresses (many of whom are admittedly sick and troubled themselves) tagged as "thinspiration." And over on the Allure message boards, Radar reports that girls as young as 12 have posted threads like "Starving Myself" and are trading their extreme diet tips. An Allure rep says they are "taking steps to correct this." Women's and teen mag editors: check your message boards to make sure you don't have a similar situation on your hands.

Clearly, eating disorders are complex illnesses with complex causes--people don't develop anorexia just from looking at pictures of Kate Moss and Nicole Richie. But we're worried about something else. As Kendall points out, even girls who are disturbed by pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia sites admit to being negatively influenced by all this thinspiration talk. They might not have eating disorders, but they're telling us they don't feel good enough, pretty enough, perfect enough.

Is it possible to wipe out this empty thinspiration and replace it with true inspiration? This Fashionista commenter isn't so hopeful:

The fashion/beauty industry and poor body-image/self-esteem will forever exist side-by-side. There's no way around it."
--Bonnie Lass

Really? Can we prove her wrong? We think it's worth a serious effort.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tell Her...

"Tell me what retouching is. Tell me it's why the models look so perfect. Tell me I'm amazing, not because of how I look, but because of all the things I can do. Tell me my most attractive feature is my self-confidence."

This video was created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for Girls Inc., the organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Watch it now and talk about it with the girls in your lives.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Little Intro

Magali Amadei and Claire Mysko are the founders of Inside Beauty, an outreach program they deliver at high schools, colleges, and conferences nationwide. Combining personal stories with real examples of photo retouching, their presentation encourages audiences to look critically at our culture's messages about beauty.

Magali Amadei has appeared on the covers and pages of every major fashion magazine in the world, including Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, and Harper's Bazaar. As a result of her battle with and victory over bulimia, she became the world's first top model to tour nationally on behalf of an eating disorders organization.

Claire Mysko is a writer, media consultant, and an expert on girls' and women's issues. She has served as the Director of the American Anorexia Bulimia Association, the Executive Editor of SmartGirl, and the Assistant Director of Communications at Girls Inc., the organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. She has an MA in Gender Studies from The New School for Social Research. Claire is the author of Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self.

Fashion Statement: Jeffrey Kolsrud, Q Models

From an Agent's Point of View
By Jeffrey Kolsrud
Q Model Management
New York-Los Angeles

In a business based on youth and beauty, we, as responsible people in the industry, need to do just that--BE RESPONSIBLE!

When consumers see a model, they see a finished product--an illusion of perfection in a magazine. Advertisers strive for excellence in the images they create to sell their products, and through a team of professionals that goal is achieved.

On the inside of the business, we see the models as the young people they are. We get to know them and they become like extended family. We need to remember that we have a responsibility to the models we represent. If one of your girls or guys is showing signs that she/he might be in trouble-do something! If you don't know the signs or what to say, please check out the links and numbers below. Once you are informed, it's easier to spot the warning signs and reach out.

Don't turn your back on these signs and on the models who are entrusting you with their careers. Be responsible. Just do it.

Get information, support, and referrals:
Eating Disorders
The National Eating Disorders Association
call 1-800-931-2237

Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services
call 1-800-662-4357

Submit your own Fashion Statment. 5resolutions[at]insidebeauty[dot]org

Fashion Statement: Nian Fish, KCD Worldwide

Nian Fish
Creative Director and Senior Vice President
KCD Worldwide

Nian Fish has produced runway shows for fashion heavy hitters like Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Chloe, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Zac Posen, and many others. With thirty years of experience under her belt, she proudly owns her status as a senior member of the fashion industry. We talked to Nian about her new role as chair of the CFDA Health Initiative.

Q: What drew you to the CFDA Health Initiative?
Nian: I suffered from eating disorders for years when I was a dancer. I have always been very vocal about these problems in the fashion industry, so when Anna Wintour started talking about organizing something months ago, my name came up. I give a lot of credit to Anna and Steven Kolb (Executive Director of the CFDA) for their leadership.

Q: You are particularly passionate about ensuring that the industry follows your age recommendations: not hiring models under the age of sixteen for runway shows and not allowing models under eighteen to work past midnight. Why do you think this one is so important?
Nian: I've observed that models have been getting younger and younger. I remember when we would see women on the runway! Today we see girls. Runway work is high pressure, and it can be a 24-hour job. To protect the physical and emotional well-being of models, we need to agree that it is not healthy for girls to be working in that environment for those kinds of hours. Models also must be fully aware that when you choose this job, you are choosing a job where you are the commodity. You need to have a strong sense of self and a solid support system to make that choice.

Q: Aside from following the guidelines, what is one thing that everyone in the industry can do to promote healthy fashion and beauty?
Nian: We can stop the misogynistic conversations that spread through the grapevine when models gain weight. We should not be treating models like outcasts when they put on a few pounds. We all know this happens, and we all have the power to change it. We need to treat models with respect.

Q: What do you say to critics?
Nian: I am a glass is half full person. At the same time, I understand that people have strong opinions and this is an emotional issue. Do I think the fashion industry is the cause of eating disorders? No. Do I think we contribute to the problem? Yes, I do. Now we can start contributing in a positive way. This is not going to be solved overnight, but I have already seen the industry's eyes changing.

Submit your own Fashion Statement. 5resolutions[at]insidebeauty[dot]org