Leaders in the fashion industry don't like to acknowledge the pressure models are under to be thin—extremely thin. It's not just unhealthy, studies have shown it more or less promotes eating disorders. After years of mostly being silent, a growing number of models are finally calling out the fashion world.
Dozens of models, including Iskra Lawrence and Geena Rocero,
wrote an open letter to New York Fashion Week designers, demanding they "prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway." The models know petitions can easily fall on deaf ears, so they have a plan—an incentive—to get designers to listen.
Together, the models involved have millions of followers on social media. Designers who work to increase diversity on the runway will be recognized on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and those who don’t will be ignored. Simple as that.
Fashion Week starts February 9, and we can’t wait to see if designers listen to the message and include diverse bodies on the runway. In the meantime, go ahead and read the open letter in full below:
Dear Members of the American Fashion Industry,
As models, we care about each other’s health and wellbeing. As we look toward New York Fashion Week, we strongly urge you to prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway this season.
Concerns about the fashion industry’s promotion of extreme thinness are nothing new but a recent research study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders confirms that unhealthy weight control practices are a serious problem in the industry. Too often, models are being pressured to jeopardize their health and safety as a prerequisite for employment.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health concern and survivors often suffer irreversible damage to their health. That is why we have teamed up with the Model Alliance and the National Eating Disorders Association to address this issue.
Together, we are challenging you to make a serious commitment to promote health and diversity on the runway. Through our social media platforms, which collectively reach millions of people, we will recognize the industry leaders who step up to this challenge. Specifically, we will keep an eye out for diversity of race, size, age, and gender status, and we hope to see diversity within and across all of those categories.
No one likes the hassle or expense of increased regulations and paperwork. However, data shows that the American fashion industry has yet to prove that it is capable of following healthy practices on its own.
Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to send the message that diversity is what makes us strong. We sincerely hope that all of you—from designers and editors to agents and casting directors—will collectively harness the industry’s creative power to be forward thinking, inclusive, and do the right thing.