If you’re in the modeling industry, you might find yourself asking: Why are models so skinny? The modeling industry can be dangerous for a woman’s self-image because measurements matter. Sizes matter. The number on the scale matters. But why are models so skinny—really?
Many designers believe their clothing looks better on skinnier models, so they send samples for catwalks and photo sessions that can only be worn by women who fit into a small size. When showing off their newest fashions, designers obviously want their outfits to look as beautiful as possible. In order for that to happen, the clothes need to drape and flow, which happens naturally when they are placed on a tall, skinny frame. That is why most mannequins come in such a small size. When the clothes are draped over a small frame in a store window, they look more appealing. With this in mind, the industry wants models who are mannequin sized, which is not a healthy size for an actual human being.
On top of that, most designers are interested in models who look similar, models who will not draw too much attention and become a distraction. They don’t want their models to stand out because they want audiences to pay more attention to the clothing the woman is wearing than to her overall look. That means the fact that other companies are using skinny models gives them incentive to use skinny models too—to fit the trend, to avoid standing out.
Why are models so skinny?
Some models will keep their weight on the lower side with the help of a healthy diet and exercise. They will squeeze workouts into their busy schedules, sometimes hitting the gym multiple times in one day, and they will eat healthy carbs and lean protein while limiting their sugar intake. They might even hire personal trainers who can create a fitness plan that fits their individual needs or hire a nutritionist who can encourage them to eat clean.
However, there are models who have taken their dieting too far. They might cut solid food out from their diet and only drink liquids, which fail to give them all of the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Others might severely limit the amount of food they consume in order to keep their calorie count low. There are some models who have admitted to eating a single apple over the course of the day, only having a slice at a time, with no other meals to fill their stomachs.
Unfortunately, there are more and more fashion models being diagnosed with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia because the industry encourages them to ‘keep their figure’. Some models have even collapsed during photo shoots and have been chauffeured to hospitals where they were placed on IVs before heading right back to work.
Since a small waist is a requirement for most catwalks and photoshoots, some models have used dangerous, and potentially deadly, methods to lose weight. Some of them have taken up smoking because it causes a loss of appetite and reduces the amount of food they consume. Other models have swallowed cotton balls, which expand in the stomach and make them feel full without eating anything. Then there are models who pop laxatives in order to get rid of the food they have eaten as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, the industry seems to be heading in the right direction, albeit slowly. There are more and more campaigns that are hiring plus-sized models (and models who are an average, healthy weight). There are even laws being put in place in areas like France, which does not allow catwalk models under a certain weight to work. Anna Wintour also has a rule about not photographing any girls with a known eating disorder.
Because of its focus on weight, the modeling industry can be toxic. It can make women who are trying to make a living out of being beautiful feel like they are anything but beautiful.
If you have any additional insights on the question “Why are models so skinny?” please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.