Vogue editors recently signed a letter in support of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s initiative to promote a healthier body image for women in the fashion industry. No longer will the magazine feature models who appear to have an eating disorder or who are under the age of 16.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but I believe if the council could get designers to change their sample sizes, the impact on women’s health and self-esteem in general would be phenomenal.
The term “sample size” refers to the size of the garment that designers initially create as part of their new collection. They only produce a few of these “sample” pieces to be shown in fashion shows and photographed for magazines prior to mass production. Currently, the sample size is either a 0 or a 2. Therefore, the models used in runway shows or photographed for fashion magazines must fit the sample size. My question is, when did the sample size become so small?
Do you realize that in today’s culture, the ultimate sex-symbol of all time Marilyn Monroe would be considered “plus-sized?” There is a lot of controversy over her actual size, but most agree that Marilyn was a size 8-10. Back in the 90s, Cindy Crawford was the reigning supermodel of her time, and she was a size 6. Even Victoria’s Secret supermodel Doutzen Kroes stated that she fit into the samples sizes, “once..when she was eleven.” (Kroes was instrumental in helping draft the CFDA health initiative. Kudos to her.)
The real problem with the sample size being so small is what it does to average women’s psyche and self-esteem. Think about it. When you’re wearing a wrap dress that shows off your shape and a man compliments you, you’d probably think it was nice (and/or perverse, depending on the man.) But if another woman said to you, “Wow, you look so skinny…have you lost weight?” – you’d light up like a Christmas tree! I know I would! (Sorry guys, but we actually don’t dress for you, we dress to be complimented by other women.)
Since the average size woman is a 12 and the average sized model is a 0 or 2, I propose the designers set their sample size right in the middle at a size 6. Make that the new “normal” size for models. This would be the greatest step to really promoting a healthy body image for all women – including models and us “average” girls. Especially since designers give their clothes to the models and expect us real women to pay (a lot) for them.
What do you think?
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