Vogue Joins Movement to Ban Underweight, Underage Models from Fashion Images

Banning the use of models under the age of 16, and/or those who appear to have an eating disorder, isn't exactly breaking news, but Vogue's announcement that they are jumping on board and adopting this policy themselves certainly is. Yesterday afternoon the magazine's publisher, Condé Nast International, announced that editors of the 19 Vogue magazines worldwide have agreed to "not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder."

Vogue is the latest, but arguably the most high-profile and influential player in fashion, to take this stand. In 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) adopted age minimums and healthy working environments after two young models died from complications believed to stem from eating disorders. Condé Nast's official statement reads:

"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."

The topic is big in fashion circles online today, and as usual Twitter is abuzz with reactions. As you might expect, the tone is generally positive, although there is a subset of fans who are expressing disappointment that this move took so long, or that it's considered forward-thinking or progressive.

The CFDA ruling resulted in age restrictions and healthy working environment commitments at New York Fashion Week, while the British Fashion Council and London Fashion Week designers have agreements in place to ensure models are at least 16 years of age. Italy, Spain and Israel have all taken measures to keep ultra-skinny models off of catwalks.

The Vogue decision is different for a couple of reasons. First, far more people read Vogue than attend fashion shows, or even read or view fashion show coverage. The effects of this decision are therefore much more far-reaching than banning too-skinny models from New York Fashion Week. Second, the Vogue decision comes complete with a "six-point pact," which includes actionable, enforceable directives such as ID checks at photo shoots and the creation of mentoring programs and industry awareness education.

What are your thoughts? Is Vogue offering too little, too late, or is this the first step in a revolution in the fashion world?

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Christina Uticone