Models Talk Extreme Diets, Changing the Sample Size at Eating Disorder Panel

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, NEDA and the Model Alliance co-hosted a panel at Pace University last night, called "Inside the Modeling Industry: A Conversation About Health and Beauty in Fashion." It was a complex and personal discussion for the models present.
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As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, NEDA and the Model Alliance co-hosted a panel at Pace University last night, called "Inside the Modeling Industry: A Conversation About Health and Beauty in Fashion." It was a complex and personal discussion for the models present.
L-R: Ashley Mears, Amy Lemons, Dr. Evelyn Attia, Sara Ziff, Katherine Schuette, Chris May, Crystal Renn, Emme

L-R: Ashley Mears, Amy Lemons, Dr. Evelyn Attia, Sara Ziff, Katherine Schuette, Chris May, Crystal Renn, Emme

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, NEDA and the Model Alliance co-hosted a panel at Pace University on Monday, called "Inside the Modeling Industry: A Conversation About Health and Beauty in Fashion."

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CFDA CEO Steven Kolb has previously dismissed these concerns, telling us in January, "Organic Avenue is well known in the fashion industry and we believe they are aligned with our message of beauty is health. They have amazing salad, soups, wraps, and tacos.”

“We are not promoting a juice only diet,” he insisted.

Ziff clarified her position on the partnership.

"While I'm sure that the CFDA has the best intentions, and I know that they've done a lot of good work," Ziff told us, "I was concerned that it sent a mixed message that their choice of partner was one that profits from precisely the kinds of restricted diets that are part of the problem."

The panel attempted to end on a positive note by offering solutions to the issues plaguing the modeling industry. Being a complex problem, the group seemed divided on what changes were most important: For Ziff, child labor laws were the linchpin of the movement, while others suggested health legislation on the national level.

Renn's suggestion, which seems almost painfully obvious in its simplicity, is for designers to change the sample size to a size 8. She argues this could accommodate bodies between sizes 6 and 10, or tailored down to a size 0 if the designer wanted to hire a girl that thin. Renn posited that some designers feel pressured to keep their sample sizes small because that's what industry leaders are doing--she of course made an exception for close friend Zac Posen.

"There are some people who lead," Renn said of the designer's attempts to diversify his runway, "and Zac Posen is one of those people."

While Monday's panel was certainly fascinating, the subject of eating disorders in the industry is such a deeply complex and tangled issue that the surface can barely be scratched in one hour-long discussion. We hope this is just the beginning of a welcome discussion which could better the industry.