Fashion Exposed: Anorexic Models

In the last decade, we have lost several models which have fallen ill and died because of the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa. These eye-opening deaths have changed the outlook of much of the fashion industry:  fashion weeks have instigated new rules pertaining to the models who walk the runway, stating that each model must have a regular B.M.I. - The World Health Organization (WHO) considers a BMI of 16 and below an indication of starvation. 

Ana Carolina Reston
In late 2006 and 2007,  four different well known models died from anorexia and malnutrition related causes. Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died after taking on a diet of just apples and tomatoes. When she passed away from kidney failure, she was found to have a B.M.I of just 13.4. It was also discovered that she suffered from both anorexia and bulimia.

Another model, Luisel Ramos died on her way back to the dressing room after a runway show held as part of Montevideo Fashion Week in Uruguay. The 22-year-old collapsed and died of heart failure. She had reportedly  adopted a diet of lettuce and Diet Coke  for three months prior to her death.  

She weighed just 44kg despite being 5'9.  According to  reports, she was told by a modeling agency that in order to make it big she would need to loose a 'significant' amount of weight. 

Luisel Ramos
6 months later, Luisel's sister, also a model - 18-year-old Eliana suffered from a similar heart attack and died from malnutrition. Israeli model Ilanit (Hila) Elmalich also died in 2007 on her 34th birthday. She began modelling aged 13, and her battle with anorexia began the same year.

These tragic, unnecessary deaths have changed fashion's outlook on weight. Madrid Fashion Week were the first to enact BMI standards for models after hearing about the deaths, and the banning of size zero models at London Fashion Week (and elsewhere, including Milan) has also been instated since 2007.

International model Charlotte Carter was even turned down from walking at London Fashion Week in 2007 because she was a US size 0. She commented at the time:

 "From the inside it feels like London agencies are cracking down on this super-skinny idea and therefore the rest of the world is somehow listening. The industry has always put pressure on me to be thin, but I brought my own issues along too. I can't blame modelling, although it has not helped. But when Models 1 advised me to gain weight it was like a psychological wall coming down. It helped me finally to realise that I was too thin. I was impressed that an agency was actually addressing my wellbeing."

Jameela Jamil, who scouted Carter before turning her down for the runway show in London advised the model to put on weight:
"Instead of encouraging her size, Models 1 assured her it did not enhance her beauty and they wanted her curvier and healthier. I was elated." 

Although experts say that 4/10 models suffer from eating disorders, we can continue to feel hopeful for the shape of things to come - with new rules and more shapely models taking over the runway (Lara Stone, Coco Rocha, Miranda Kerr), as well as a drop in model deaths caused by eating disorder, the future is looking hopeful, and most importantly, healthier.

Eliana Ramos
Charlotte Carter

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