They may not agree on everything, but the 19 international editors of Vogue are in assent on at least one topic: The health and well-being of models and readers alike. To that end, all of them have recently banded together to promote healthier body image within the industry and beyond in a Vogue-wide Health Initiative, to be unveiled in Vogue UK's June issue.
The new initiative will make several efforts to improve models' working conditions, as well as promote healthier body images for readers. While the language in the new manifesto, which was posted on Vogue Italia, is a bit noncommittal at times, the new initiative is without a doubt a step in the right direction--and it should make a big impact on the kind of models and editorials we see in the magazines.
For instance, as part of the agreement, Vogue editors will not "knowingly" use models under the age of 16--which means that models like Gemma Ward, Lindsey Wixson and Karlie Kloss (who were all photographed for an edition of Vogue under the age of 16) will have to wait a few years before getting snapped. They've asked casting directors to start ID'ing models at shoots, and are "encouraging" producers and casting agents to ensure the working conditions backstage are healthy and fair. For those models who are on the younger side of the spectrum, Vogue will "help to structure mentoring programs where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls."
The editors have also made a pact not to use models who "appear to" have eating disorders and instead work with girls who "in [their] view" promote a healthy body image. This one's obviously a lot harder to qualify, but hopefully it means we'll see a wider variety of sizes and shapes, instead of the now-ubiquitous double-zero. Fingers crossed, anyway. Because while Vogue certainly yields a lot of power, not even the magazine, alone, can change the thin-obsessed fashion industry. They need the designers to help, too. Which is why, in the manifesto, it says Vogue editors will "encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models. "
Let's hope this is the first step in a long march of change.
Click through to read the full manifesto.
Vogue's Health Initiative Manifesto 1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.
2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns.
3. We will help to structure mentoring programmes where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative.
4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.
5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.
6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.