Dazzling Canadian model Coco Rocha and Victoria’s Secret model Doutzen Kroes are helping launch a new campaign to call attention to fashion industry pressure on models to adopt an “anorexic” look for fashion shows.
The proliferation of “too thin” models is one of the industry’s dirty open secrets and one of the biggest health threats to the young girls, sometimes as young as 15, who go to extremes to lose weight or keep their weight down to irrational standards.
The models attended an event to raise awareness about the problem, sponsored by David B. Herzog of Massachusetts General Hospital earlier in the week, according to Vogue.
“I felt pressure early in my career,” Rocha told the crowd. “I was told: ‘The look this year is anorexic. We don’t want you to be anorexic, just look it.’
“This message was especially troubling given the fact that I was only fifteen,” she said.
Coco, who is 5’10″ tall, said industry execs asked her to lose even more weight even though she was a size 4 at the time.
“When I was younger, many miles away from home I turned to diuretic pills to loose weight. One day, I took so many on an empty stomach that I spent hours doubled over and racked with pain,” she said.
“At that time I promised myself that I would never again take such drastic measures in order to please others.”
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), an industry trade group representing about 350 designers, has finally recognized the problem with a new health initiative.
Herzog, who is director of Massachusetts General, explained the CFDA Health Initiative, which promotes the idea that health is beauty, and mentors new models, who are paired with seasoned girls for help and guidance.
“These girls needs to know that they have nutritionists, trainers, designers—an entire industry behind them,” said Rocha.
The Canadian model has been outspoken on the issue. She has written about the problem on her own blog.
“How can any person justify an aesthetic that reduces a woman or child to an emaciated skeleton? Is it art? Surely fashion’s aesthetic should enhance and beautify the human form, not destroy it,” she wrote in an open letter to the New York Times.
Her full speech at the event is posted on her blog.