Vogue is looking to ban underage models and those with eating disorders in favour of “ healthy models” in all 19 international editions of the magazine.
“We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image,” reads Condé Nast's lofty new “health initiative,” which hopes to ensure that Vogue models “are well cared for and educated in ways that will encourage and help them to take care of themselves, addressing as many of the pressing issues relating to ill health in the industry as can realistically be tackled.”
While the pact has been lauded as a step in the right direction for the fashion industry, critics are questioning whether its vague language – what is “healthy” to Vogue, anyway? – means little will change on the magazine stands.
Here are the main edicts in Condé Nast International’s agreement with Vogue editors announced Thursday:
• Vogue will “not knowingly work” with models under age 16 or “who appear to have an eating disorder.” It will instead hire models who, “in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.”
• The magazine will ask agents “not to knowingly send us underage girls.” Casting directors will now be tasked with checking IDs.
• Vogue will launch mentoring programs between older models and younger ones.
• Producers will be asked to better working conditions backstage, including “healthy food options and a respect for privacy.” Additionally, “we will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.”
• Vogue will “encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes … which encourages the use of extremely thin models.”
Writing for New York magazine, Charlotte Cowles wondered: “Many of these rules seem vague (and what, exactly, are the consequences for breaking them?) …”
Still, with this announcement and a handful of runway initiatives, the tide may be slowly turning on extremely thin models. Earlier this year, the Israeli government passed an “anti-skinny-model law”; Italy and Spain, meanwhile, have banned runway models who fall below a certain body mass index level.
In 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of America adopted voluntary measures pushing healthier work environments and age requirements during New York Fashion Week.
Do you think Vogue's ‘health initiative’ will actually change what you see in its pages? Will it change how women feel about themselves after poring through a copy of Vogue?