Recently, top fashion magazine Vogue announced it was not going to use “obviously anorexic” models. On the surface, this appears to be a good step in the right direction. Without a doubt, the media plays a huge part in influencing the way we think about our bodies, largely teaching us that skinny is desirable and applauding those who take drastic measures to lose weight. Magazines like Vogue are well known for using slim models and it is arguable that their lack of diversity in the size of their models contributes to many people’s insecurities about their weight.
However, there is a problem to be found in the new exclusion of skinny models. The most common mistake that seems to be made is that you can tell anything about a person’s health from their size. Someone who is considered to be fat can quite easily have a much healthier lifestyle than someone who is slim, just as someone who is slim can be much healthier than someone who is fat. Anorexia often conjures images of stick thin, skeletal figures but we forget that these people were not always this shape. You cannot tell whether someone is anorexic simply by looking at them, and with bulimia, it’s even harder to tell from someone’s appearance.
Vogue’s decision to ban anorexic models simply condemns those who are very skinny, and for those who are naturally this shape, this is just as damaging as attacking someone for being “too fat.” Until magazines start using models of all shapes and sizes, rather than favouring one type or even outright banning certain sizes, there are still people out there who are going to be made to feel bad about their body type. There also needs to be a focus on educating people that you cannot tell anything about a person’s health just by looking at them. Even if someone is obese and endangering their health, even if someone does not eat enough, their health is their business and it is no one’s right to judge this.