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Becca Aves
Megan Fry
ENG 104
15 April 2014
Eating Disorders and the Fashion Industry
The fashion industry has created a high rate of eating disorders in the world. “The
average model weighed about eight percent less than the average women twenty years ago.
Today’s models weigh about twenty-three percent less” (Amed 1). The statistics keep getting
worse and will not get better until the fashion industry changes the way they do things. They
set the “ideal” body size for women in the world, causing them to believe they are not good
enough. They single different size people and they do not realize it, or do anything about it. All
people should be treated the same no matter their size. There are three main types of eating
disorders they all have their own harmful effects and own ways of affecting people.
There are a couple different types of eating disorders. The types consist of anorexia,
bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Anorexia is when someone decides to starve him or herself
and have excessive weight loss. It is most common in women and the most fatal eating
disorder. Most people who are anorexic will eventually die due to lack of food and the need to
be skinny. “Anorexia nervosa has one of the highest death rates of any mental health
condition” (Heaner 1). Bulimia is another eating disorder; is it when someone eats any type of
food they will force themselves to throw up everything they just ate. Due to the vomiting they
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start to have tooth decay and staining of the teeth due to the stomach acid they throw up.
“Bulimia causes electrolyte imbalance that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart
failure and death” (Heaner 1). The other big eating disorder is called binge eating disorder that
is when someone cannot help themselves- they need to eat large amounts of food at one time,
but then feel guilty after doing it. The people who have this eating disorder are usually of
average or overweight. These eating disorders have been seen in men, but mainly in women.
Some say that is caused by a mental disorder, others blame the fashion industries, age, gender
etc. All of them are serious conditions and the people suffering from them require help.
ating disorders are not something to mess around with. The fashion industry does not
see anything wrong with what they are doing. They think it is normal for them to have
manneuins the size of a toothpick, clothes that reveal too much skin etc. People become
depressed, anxious, hopeless and have low self-esteem because of the society around us.
Everyone wants to fit in and they feel the only way they can is by wearing clothes that everyone
else is wearing. There are different health risks due to eating disorders, which can be caused by
the fashion industry. “With them come emotional symptoms like anxiety, depression,
hopelessness and low self-esteem; they bring psychological symptoms such as constant
thoughts about food, weight, shape and exercise; they put strain on relationships; and they
cause physical problems which can lead to serious illness and even death” (Wilson, Blackhurst
1). It drops people’s self-esteems because they feel they are too “fat” to wear certain clothes.
Depression and anxiety do not get better over time; they worsen as time goes on. For people
who deal with anxiety or depression due to the different types of clothes people have, or the
size other people are will affect them even more because of the fact they are always around it.
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There is no hiding from it. The fashion industry portrays a lot of body images that make women
feel the need to start excessively dieting or exercising, which can lead to low self-esteem and
eating disorders.
The fashion industry has an “ideal” body look for theirs actresses, actors and models. If
you sit back and look at all the body images the way they want women to look like is Barbie.
They focus everything off of what “Barbie” may look like. If you look at the models they have
the “Idealized bodies, exaggerated proportions, long slender limbs, and expressionless faces”
(Bridges 1). The ideal bodies they have created for models have caused people to believe they
are not good enough and never will be until they reach the goals that the famous people meet.
“Women make upward comparisons to people who they believe to be better than them”
(Salamone 1). This is a true statement-every girl looks up to someone and it usually is a famous
person because they have more money or are pretty. Everyone may not see it, but it is obvious
when you ask them about it. You will find if you ask someone who they look up to or idealize,
almost everyone would say someone who is skinny, rich, pretty and dresses nice. This causes
women to think negatively about themselves because they do not look the same as the person
they look up too.
This society has many flaws. The fashion industry plays a big role in influencing self-
esteems they need to see how, but it seems not to care how it affects average people. Not
everyone has the ideal body. This causes women to think negative about themselves. There is
an “overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin” (Pearson 1). I
feel that even though the models are unhealthily thin, women still try to look like them. It
causes women to believe they are not good enough and some even end up having an eating
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disorder. When people get an eating disorder, it is hard for them to stop because they are more
worried about the number on the scale instead of the person standing in front of the mirror.
They feel they will never be good enough, which was caused by the low self-esteem they had
gained before they had got the eating disorder. “Seventy percent of girls in grades five to
twelve said magazine images influence their ideals of a perfect body” (Pearson 1). This is proof
that they look up to people who society deems better than them and causes them to get into
the state of mind to make themselves look like them. Everyone deals with situations in their
own way, whether it is good or bad.
Everyone has their own way of coping with things; sometimes it is not the best. I know
someone who has an eating disorder. The first person I interviewed is a female who is now
twenty years old. She said she has been bulimic since she was sixteen years old. During the
interview, I had asked quite a bit of question to understand where she was coming from. I
asked her what caused her to drop to the point where she needed to turn bulimic. She
responded with “I felt like I was not thin enough, or even good enough in this society. I see
people who are skinny and look good in their clothes. I could not help, but think negative about
everything. I wanted to look like them and the only way I felt I could succeed was by being
bulimic” (Anonymous 1). I asked her what she thought about during binging and purging? She
replied with “I always thought about the end factor, about how I was going to finally be happy
with my body, how I would look like everybody, how I was not going to be judged, but then I
finally realized that no matter what, society judges you and you will never meet everyone’s
expectations” (Anonymous 1). After realizing this she explained that “every day you want
someone to save you from it, but no matter what people will say things to you about it and how
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I was perfect as the way I am, and that if someone loved me that I would not have to change for
them, they would accept me for who I am. I did not agree with that I had to accept myself first
and the first way was by fitting in. I had to look good in the clothes I wore” (Anonymous 1).
Finally, I asked whether she is happy? She uickly stated, “Nobody will ever be happy with their
body. They see the number on the scale and it is still never good enough. You want to always
beat the number, no number will ever be good enough” (Anonymous 1). People try and hide it
each and every day that they have an eating disorder, there are plenty of people in the world
that have one. They hide it, but want to be saved at the same time they cannot help it. The
hopelessness of not being good enough and the point where your self-esteem has already been
destroyed makes it harder for people to recover from things like this. They allow things like the
clothes they wear; how they look in their clothes, affect how they will be and how happy they
will be. It is a serious problem and it is caused by the fashion industry for making people think
they need to be the way the models are. They have finally “banned models who are younger
than sixteen walking in fashion shows” (Salamone 1); they decided this because a “model had
died due to being ‘too fat’ at a casting call which led her to be eighty-eight pounds which then
made them decide that they needed to set a minimum body mass index of eighteen”
(Salamone 1). The only problem with that was “it was not mandatory they just said that they
need to identify models with an eating disorder and have nutritional food backstage,”
(Salamone 1); this shows it is not healthy if people who are young cannot walk in the fashion
show what makes it okay for adults it is no different they need to change things and fast.
The fashion industry makes clothes more desirable for skinny people. When you go out,
you cannot help but notice what everyone else is wearing. When you are walking down the
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street, whether it is summer or winter, now you notice a lot of skin showing. The shirts show
half of their stomachs, the shorts are really short, and they are wearing shirts that are see-
through or open in the back. When you are out, you notice this because everyone does. It is a
natural thing to do. When girls think they are fat, they refuse to wear those types of outfits.
When you go shopping, it is hard to find clothes that do not show all your skin because that is
the most popular thing out there right now. There comes a time when the fashion industry will
have to think about everyone and not just the skinny girls. It is a very serious thing to girls who
cannot wear that type of clothing. It puts their self-esteem really low. They have a very small
variety of clothes they are willing to buy and wear because people are likely to judge them if
they are not model thin. Also, the so-called popular stores like Hollister, Abercrombie,
Aeropostale and American Eagle only have certain sizes. Those stores do not allow a variety of
size girls to shop there, specifically the plus size girls. They have to go to Lane Bryant and other
stores so they can fit into the clothing they want and buy. This makes those girls feel hopeless
because they cannot shop where they want or fit in the clothes they like. It happens every day
and people do not notice it, but it does happen a lot.
Eating disorders in the world have gone up over the years by significant figures. It is not
only due to the fashion industry too many other concepts also. “There are numerous risk
factors, including being female, age, family history, influences and mental health issues”
(Heaner 1). These are big causes of them. They take place anywhere and everywhere. Many
people with eating disorders are usually females because they are always trying to be perfect
and in reality there is no such thing as perfect. “What women and girls talk about is how they
want to look - their fantasies of transformation into their ‘dream bodies’ which is related to
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many different things. Most women who have eating disorders will never be okay with their
body they will starve themselves they are more obsessed with the number on the scale than
there body themselves. It is a sad thing to see because it does lead to deaths. There are also
many more reasons which you usually do not notice like family and friends. It is harsh to think
about, but it does happen. It usually happens when a girl is eating and they say you should not
be eating that much, you need to lose a couple pounds, you have gotten bigger and are you
pregnant when you are not. It is the little things that cause things like this. I have been involved
in this many of times myself. My family will constantly say you need to work out you are gaining
weight. It is very upsetting knowing that they can say this to you. They do not think it is
offensive, but in a girls mind it is. It can also happen when you are out shopping with your
friends and they say things like that does not look good on you. They may say only skinny girls
can pull that off, it is offensive. The fashion industry is not all to blame for the eating disorders
but a main cause. It is the little things that can mean the most to someone.
Fashion models were once okay for all ages they were allowed to walk in fashion shows.
They now have set an age limit to this because of the factors that they have caused. While
being a fashion model, you have to be petite and have that “ideal” body for everything. “They
ended up banning models who are younger than sixteen to walk in fashion shows” (Heaner 2).
This should be important to not only the people watching, but also to the people running the
shows. If sixteen-year-olds are not allowed to walk due to weight and other factors, what
makes it okay for people who are seventeen and older? They deal with the same exact thing as
the younger models deal with. The weight and height for most models are unrealistic; when
they turn you can see their bones everywhere. People who have a body mass of eighteen are
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considered underweight. Health should be the number one thing when dealing with models,
actresses and actors. They should have to be at a healthy weight to even be allowed to walk in
a fashion show or be in a movie. They should have to set an example to all the women in the
world about how there are better things in life than being super skinny. They should show them
no matter your size you can still succeed, which would help women to stop stressing so much
over their size and about other things. Everyone should be happy with who they are, no matter
their size.
If the fashion industry started using average size models, it could help lower the rates of
eating disorders. It would not eliminate them completely, but would help lower the statistics by
a lot. It would show that size does not matter. All that should matter is who you are everyone is
beautiful in their own way which needs to be shown. “Average-size, attractive models could be
used effectively in advertising, which may help to relieve body image concerns amongst these
women” (Halliwell, Dittmar, and Howe 2). It would allow women to think they are normal and
that they meet standards in the world. It would take stress off them dealing with their body
images and how they feel they are not good enough.
“The fashion Industry causes the demand for, an overvaluation of, extreme thinness
within a culture of scrutiny and judgment about weight, shape, eating and increases the risk of
developing an eating disorder” (spejo, 22). It causes people to develop eating disorders
throughout their life; it may not be caused just from the fashion industry, but they do play a big
role on the teenager’s life. They look up to the actresses, actors and models and the way
society portrays them is causing them to have low self-esteem and other things, which can also
lead to death. Eating disorders have been around for a long time, but are still going up each
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year. Nothing has really been done to fix them. They bring people down because they favor
people who are skinner. They do not think about the people who are normal or obese. They
have their mind set on the Barbie ideal look alike.























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Works Cited
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Implicit Associations with Underweight Fashion Models are Associated with Drive for Thinness in
Young Women.” Eating Disorders. July-Sep2008, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p294-307. Academic Search
Premier. 15. Apr. 2014.
Anonymous. “Eating Disorders” Interviewed by Becca Aves. Personal Interview, 15 Apr. 2014.
Amed, Imran. “The Fashion Industry (Still) Has an Image Problem.” The Business of Fashion, 18 Mar.
2013. Web 15 Apr. 2013.
Bridges, Tristan. “The Fashion Industry and the Institutionalization of Body Ideals and Feminine Beauty.”
2014 Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
spejo, Roman. “Chapter 1: How Does the Fashion Industry Affect Society.” The Fashion Industry.
Detriot: Greenhaven, 2010. 21-36. Print.
Fox-Kales, mily. “Chapter 4: Body Transformation.” Body Shots: Hollywood and the Culture of Eating
Disorders. Albany: Excelsior Editions, University of New York, 2011. 73-94. Print.
Halliwell, Emma, Helga Dittmar, and Jessica Howe. “The Impact Of Advertisements Featuring Ultra-Thin
Or Average-Size Models On Women With A History Of Eating Disorders.” Journal Of Community
& Applied Social Psychology 15.5 (2005): 406-413. Academic Search Premier. Web 15 Apr. 2014.
Pearson, Catherine. “Fashion And ating Disorders: How Much Responsibilty Does Industry Have?” The
Huffington Post. 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Salamone, Gina. “ating Disorders and Fashion Are Still at Odds.” NY Daily News.
www.Nydailynews.com, 27 Sept. 2007. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
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Heaner, Martica K., and B. Timothy Walsh. "A History Of The Identification Of The Characteristic Eating
Disturbances Of Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder And Anorexia Nervosa." Appetite
71.(2013): 445-448. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Halliwell, Emma, Helga Dittmar, and Jessica Howe. "The Impact Of Advertisements Featuring Ultra-Thin
Or Average-Size Models On Women With A History Of Eating Disorders." Journal Of Community
& Applied Social Psychology 15.5 (2005): 406-413. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.