The fashion industry has always been an influential establishment since the 1900’s and prior. There is no denying the impact fashion has on the fast trending world, as many different ages participate to stay up to date with what’s in and what is considered last season. In the early 1900’s the S-shaped figure was what was strived for with big, lavish clothing (Bowman,2017). Women wore corsets and bustles just to achieve such figure. Fast forward to the fifties when knee length skirts and a cinched waistline was the look; as women began to develop a sense of femininity, fashion took charge (Monet, 2018). Sweaters, flannels, and anything self made was the height of the nineties (Retrowaste). As fashion has progressed throughout time, it’s grasp on our society has grown off the charts. In particularly, millennials who are highly motivated to keep up, often find pressure in not being able to accommodate such high standards. This pressure comes with conforming to what society deems as beautiful, which many interpret to be skinny and undoubtedly flawless because of the models, celebrities, and influencers that stand before their eyes. This raises the question ‘Should the fashion industry reevaluate its standards to prevent body image issues?’
In the article written by Tabitha Farrar stated “ Thin-ideal media highlights the idea that thinness is a good and desirable thing to be, even if it is to a level that is potentially damaging a person’s health.” Farrar herself suffered twelve years of anorexia, and now advocates for destigmatizing eating disorders.
Impressionable young adults feel the need to perfect themselves. This insecurity can lead to many things such as eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binging ,and purging (ANAD). In today’s society social media influencers, models, and anyone unnaturally skinny are the goals to meet for many teenagers. Young adults find a variety of ways to lose the unwanted weight from diet pills and laxatives, to vomiting, and rigorous diets. At least 30 million people of all ages and gender suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S alone (ANAD). ANAD is a organization called the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders in which they provide insight for people who don’t understand how much these disorders impact people’s lives. Teenagers are highly stressed in this day and age, because of not only balancing school, home, and social life, but also finding a place to fit in. “My generation has grown up in a society that places an appalling emphasis on body image.” (Song, 2014). Isabel Song, a college student from UC Berkeley wrote a article on the heavyweight society has placed on the generation of millennials to look a certain way. Song being apart of this generation has heard and seen her age group grow up with insecurities due to excessive body shaming. The fashion community often only includes tall skinny women on the high fashion runways. Regardless, negative body image of women and men is not pleasant and it seems unethical that marketing firms should constantly place an unrealistic ideal in the faces of young people (Farrar 2014). Young adults and teenagers manifest this notion that only tall skinny women are beautiful and get the inspiration to change themselves, trying to reach the unachievable goals and standards of the fashion world. Although there are influencers that are not the typical slim figure such as any Kardashian, none of whom have a body type that can be achieved naturally, that does not change the situation of the fashion community promoting more skinny women and men as the ideal candidate.
Some may argue that fashion should sell clothes rather than creating a certain image for young impressionable minds, but body shaming is a serious issue and that as well includes all types of bodies. Dazed a fashion magazine asked five women who are “ challenging the status quo and paving the way in terms of how we think about inclusivity in the industry on tools for change, the difference between legislation and body policing and whether passing laws is the right way to shift body ideals” (Dazed 2016). With questions such as “Do you buy into the idea of ‘skinny-shaming’, where naturally thin girls are chastised for their bodies?” (Dazed 2016). One woman by the name of Caryn Franklin, A fashion commentator and professor in diversity for Kingston University responded with “Women all over the world are evaluated and even oppressed because of their appearance. Age, size, skin tone and even appearance of genitals are political issues. This is a much bigger issue.” (Dazed 2016). All bodies should be included in fashion not a specific type. Another women by the name of Charli Howard a model who was dropped for her size not being small enough said “I refuse to feel ashamed and upset on a daily basis for not meeting your ridiculous, unobtainable beauty standards” ( Cherrington 2015). Cast out for not being skinnier by the standards of the fashion industry . This issue is as well a problem with men as it is with women. The male body image suffers when men are exposed to images of unrealistic male bodies ( Mirror Mirror, 2019). Mirror Mirror is a organization that focus on eating disorders and what lead to such disorders. Many tend to assume that a healthy body is muscular build, but fail to realize a less toned body is still just as healthy. Will the vicious cycle that is the fashion industry continue to degrade women and men based on their appearance or will the fashion industry change to accept anyone and everyone?
On the other hand, the fashion industry has been working its way to including diversity into their fashion shows, catalogs, and advocating for healthier models. Fashion companies such as ModCloth eliminated their photoshopped photos by signing “The Heroes Pledge for Advertisers ” in 2014, then removed ‘ plus size ’ from the website, only to be replaced as ‘ all sizes ’ in 2015 (Geller 2017). Healthier lifestyles can arise from the fit examples that are prominently displayed. Sanne Vloet is a model from Switzerland; in a article posted by Kristine Boyd, Sanne was praised for her healthy food choices “ There is a common stigma that models only eat bland, boring food. Sanne proved her viewers wrong by showing what she eats in a day. These delicious, healthy recipes are full of ingredients that are going to help you feel satisfied and energized all day long! We love these recipes and are inspired to try these ourselves” (Boyd, 2018). In 2016, an overall 13% of the world’s population was obese. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016 (World Health Organization, 2018). The World Health Organization provides insight on different types of conditions such as obesity which could be decreased. Social media influencers can set a example for teenagers that admire them to eat healthier. In fact there are people in the public eye who are quite known for healthy lifestyles. Rosie Huntington- Whiteley is a model, designer, and businesswoman who is very active and supports healthy living especially in her line of work. “The collection of sports wear is a natural move for the model, who is an outspoken advocate of fitness. She has recently spoken to ELLE about her passion for well-being, saying she regards the gym as a form of meditation—and she has the body to prove it” (McCabe, 2017). The idea that models liven unhealthy lifestyles to stay skinny is false, they just choose to eat healthier and work out more. Though in the end not everyone has the same body type working out, and dieting is different for every individual.
In my opinion teenagers are easily persuaded to feel a certain way. One comment on their physical appearance can impact them monumentally. This generation is quite involved in social media, and celebrities lifestyles. We have grown up admiring these flawless beings wishing to be like them. This can lead to self esteem lows, and the inspiration to change; teenagers want to revise themselves so much they lead to self harm to achieve these standards. Defining beauty itself is one’s opinion, different cultures see beauty differently. Though segregating more than half of the population who do not meet the fashion standards is not necessarily correct. I am all for healthier lifestyles, but not when those lifestyles come from peer pressure from the communities around us. Me being someone who has experienced this self hate, and doubt because I look up to such beautiful people it is very hard to come to terms with your body. While constantly seeing skinny models, celebrities, and influencers being told they are the epitome of beauty, you hope to be like them. I do believe that the fashion industry is a main cause of body image issues because of how scarce the diversity is in the fashion community. The industry can pave the way for more self awareness for the next generation to come by promoting more diverse images of beauty and placing more emphasis on health rather than simply a certain look.
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