LONDON — Concern over the fashion industry’s preference for young, ultra-skinny models has been rumbling for a number of years, and now Vogue publisher Condé Nast International has set out to directly address the issue.
The magazine publisher today announced the launch of its Health Initiative, an agreement between the editors of Vogue’s 19 international editions designed to “encourage a healthier approach to body image within the industry,” Condé Nast International said, adding that: “Vogue is uniquely placed to engage with relevant issues in order to make a difference."
As part of the initiative, the editors have all signed a six-point agreement focused on promoting a healthy body image in their magazines and the wider fashion industry.
Among the points that form the pact are that the editors will not knowingly work with models under 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder; that they will ask casting directors not to knowingly send underage models to their magazines; they will help structure mentoring programs so that more mature models can advise their younger counterparts; they will encourage designers to “consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes,” and that they will encourage show producers to create healthy backstage working environments for models.
The new initiative builds on the steps that the Council of Fashion Designers of America and U.S. Vogue have taken, such as the launch of a mentor program for models in 2011, and those of the British Fashion Council and British Vogue, such as the launch of the BFC’s Model Health Inquiry in 2007 and the establishment of a model advisory panel, a meeting of casting directors, stylists and booking editors to discuss model welfare.
Eighteen editions of Vogue are to launch the initiative in their June issues with features commissioned by each editor, while Vogue Japan will launch the initiative in its July issue.
British Vogue, for example, will run a feature in its June issue that examines women’s attitudes to nutrition, and polls models including Stella Tennant, Lily Cole and Adriana Lima on the subject.
The editors of Vogue signed up to the agreement include Emmanuelle Alt of Vogue Paris, Kirtsie Clements of Vogue Australia, Mitsuko Watanabe of Vogue Japan, Alexandra Shulman of Vogue U.K. and Anna Wintour of American Vogue, along with editors of newer Vogue editions including China, India, Mexico, Turkey and the Netherlands.
Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International, said in a statement: “Vogue believes that good health is beautiful. Vogue editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the well-being of their readers.”
It's my sincere hope that others in the fashion industry join in this initiative. Kudos to VOGUE for taking the first step!