Weight/ Race in Fashion

For the “Re-Generation/Re-Fashion” project, I decided to focus on the concern of health in body and weight within the fashion modelling industry.

I began my research by reading an article on “Why isn’t the Fashion Indusrty more Diverse?”


Highlights of the article:

  • 80% of models on runway in Autumn/Winter 2015 were white
  • There are designers like Riccardo Tisci and Tom Ford who use a diverse range of models in their shows
  • In 2014, of the 611 covers published by the fashion industry’s 44 biggest magazines, only 18% featured non-white models, while 90% who appeared in fashion advertising campaigns were white
  • Consumers who purchase luxury fashion are more diverse than ever
  • The fastest growing luxury markets in the world are the Middle-East and Africa. Why isn’t this reflected in fashion communications?
  • Is it due to the boardroom, where few non-whites hold top positions etc? Or does it reflect a racial bias in aspirations of consumer society at large?

The main focus of this article was on the lack of racial diversity, and after reading actual figures of the proportion of white to non-white models in fashion, I wonder why nothing has been done to change this yet. This article was written in 2015, however there had been actions to protest against this issue way before in 2008 for example. This was when Italian vogue released the “All Black” edition, in which magazines only featured black models. It was appalling to realise how there needs to be a “special” kind of edition for black models, whereas the regular editions are white models. Furthermore, this was in 2008, and the issue still existed in 2015, and now in 2016 there hasn’t been a major change yet. It’s frustrating, because why?


Italian Vogue’s All Black edition


In these comments below the article, the public highlights the problem in the lack of diversity in other areas, one of them being weight. This led me to search the issues surrounding “weight” and then there was this discussion:


Highlights of this article:

  • An advance in the Californian Bill to fight models’ eating disorders
  • The measure requires the state to develop health standards for models and regard them as employees of the brands they represent
  • In 2015, France banned excessive thinness in models, partly in response to the death of Isabelle Caro, a 28-year old former French fashion model
  • Caro died from anorexia
  • In 2013, Israel conducted a similar measure
  • Italy and Spain relies on voluntary codes of conduct to protect the models
  • Sara Ziff, a former fashion model, has been pressured to strip for photographers at a young age
  • This bill can protect models from sexual abuse and exploitatio, thus preventing risks of developing an eating disorder
  • The Association of Talent Agents called the bill “unworkable”, because a liscensing requirement for modelling agencies is unnecessary when California talent agencies are already liscensed

The concern and action for models’ health is discarded due to an issue with liscensing, it seems like the companies do not regard this as a top priority matter. Perhaps it is due to the harsh fact that the ideal body image in 21st century is slim, very slim. The companies cannot risk losing this money-making aspect. But change cannot occur until this barrier is broken, so how can this be fixed?

After drawing out two concerns over diversity- race and weight, I settled on exploring weight- more accurately, anorexia in fashion models. I want to know more about this subject, as I never knew what measures the industry or the public are taking to create change, and what is actually happening behind the glittering screen of fashion.





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