The Vogue Factor: Fashion really isn’t worth dying for

The damage the industry inflicts on young women is paraded on the catwalk

Share

Imagine a factory where the employees are regularly being starved.

Some are so desperate with hunger that they pick up tissues from the floor and stuff them into their mouths, while a few become so weak that they have to be admitted to hospital and put on a drip. Any industry which treated workers so badly would be targeted by undercover reporters. Photographs of emaciated workers would cause an outcry, questions would be asked in parliament and the factory would be closed down. This would happen anywhere in the developed world with one glaring exception, and that’s the fashion industry.

“You know how you read interviews where models insist that they eat a lot? Not true,” says Kirstie Clements, who edited Vogue Australia for 13 years. “The only way they can get that thin is to stop eating. They eat tissue paper to stave off the hunger pangs – literally ball it up and eat it.” It’s one of several startling claims in The Vogue Factor, a book that Clements has written about the industry she knows from the inside, and it’s not even the most shocking.

Clements lifts the lid on the existence of “fit” models, the women used to check the fit of clothes who are expected to be even thinner than the catwalk variety. “Fit” in this instance means just the opposite, as Clements discovered when she asked a top model how she was getting on with her flatmate. “Oh, it’s fine,” was the insouciant reply, “she’s a fit model so she is mostly in hospital on a drip.”

By any normal standards, someone whose job puts them in hospital most of the time is: (a) deluded; and (b) abused. But the fashion industry departed from normal standards years ago, not even bothering to hide the damage it inflicts mostly (but not exclusively) on young women. It’s paraded on catwalks and in fashion spreads for anyone to see, evident in models whose jutting hipbones and stick limbs suggest they’re suffering from malnutrition.  When flipping through a glossy magazine a couple of days ago, I was mesmerised by a perfume ad featuring two models whose naked bodies were as skinny as saplings.

Clements recalls a fashion shoot which lasted for three days yet she didn’t see the model eat once, even when the girl got so weak that she could hardly stand or open her eyes. Everyone involved in the fashion industry is expected to buy into a fantasy in which there’s nothing unusual about being five foot nine and weighing 45 kilos. But the death toll on the international modelling circuit – Ana Carolina Reston, Luisel Ramos and her sister Eliana, Isabelle Caro – tells a different story. Fashion isn’t worth dying for, so let’s start applying the normal health and safety standards to this sick industry.

Twitter: @polblonde

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor Preston

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Cover Supervisor Jobs in Presto...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We URGENTLY require qualified an...

IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The view from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Why I can't wait to leave London and live in a free, independent Scotland

Yannis Baboulias
 

Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware last-minute promises. Vote Yes.

Sol Zanetti
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week