Catalog with too-thin models is voluntarily pulled

The Canadian clothing company, La Maison Simons, agreed to pull its new 36-page catalog after complaints from the public poured in. Their complaints? The catalog featured "photographs of thin, young women, who display more bone than flesh."

Company CEO, Peter Simons, had this to say about the catalog:

Those images are "destructive to a more vulnerable portion of the population which is exposed to anorexia," Simons told The Gazette from his office in Quebec City..."We are into social responsibility here. I'm fully aware of what it is and I'm taking full responsibility for (the catalogue). It's my job to ensure that we are a constructive actor in the community," Simons said. "I should have done better. I should have seen it."

I am happy that Simons recognized the error of his ways, and acknowledged it publically- though it would have been nice if he didn't need public complaint letters to make him do so. I think it sends a powerful message to the clothing industry that people aren't going to just sit back and take in the unrealistic images of women and men.

However, I don't know how much this will do to prevent eating disorders. The fact of the matter is that we don't know what causes eating disorders. We know it takes both a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger to develop an eating disorder. Does living in a thin-idolizing society make things worse? Perhaps. It certainly doesn't help. But almost unknown research from the late 1990s on the island of Curacao found the rates of anorexia on a fat-is-beautiful island are essentially the same as those found in Europe and the US.

Of course, this is countered by research from an increase in eating disorder behaviors on the island of Fiji after the introduction of American television.

So why don't we say what we do know: this is a good thing to do regardless of its effects on eating disorders. That this kind of advertising is toxic, to women and men, regardless of their potentials of developin an eating disorder. That it doesn't need to cause a clinical disorder before becoming evil. That we don't know how to prevent eating disorders. And that eating disorders have nothing to do with fashion and "looking good."

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fighting_forever said...

I don't think things like too-thin fashion models cause anorexia (or any other eating disorder). I saw a documentary where someone studied the population of a place where being fat was still considered beautiful and found the number of anorexia cases proportional to those in the UK or US. My own experience of Finland shows that eating disorders are as common even in a place with a generally healthy attitude towards food and exercise.

I don't believe that the number of eating disorder cases is on the increase. I just think we're better at identifying them and people are more willing to admit to them.

However, I think too-thin models, popstars, actors etc. may be causing a problem of wannarexia. These are girls who want to have eating disorders and try to act as if they do, either because they think it's cool or because they're desperate to lose weight. These girls will try and act as though they had a disorder, so the it is sometimes dangerous behaviour. Even if it's not a full eating disorder, it's a serious problem. This is what we should be complaining about, not an increase in disorders themselves.

cb said...

I agree that too-thin models don't cause anorexia - but I think they do make it more difficult for sufferers to gain the necessary weight to recover because of the social acceptability - desirability, even - of being unhealthily thin which is promoted by the prevalence of such photographs and things.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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