For yet another season, just before Fashion Week, the CFDA held a panel discussion on the body image in the fashion industry at Milk Studios last night. Entitled “The Beauty of Health: Resizing the Sample Size,” speakers included Zac Posen, casting agent James Scully, and model Doutzen Kroes. Apparently those rail-thin models that will be taking the runway tomorrow don’t just scare us, they scare designers, editors, casting agents, and fellow models. Panelists agreed that the trend of prepubescent, skeletal models needs to change, but said it’s going to take a collective effort by the entire fashion industry to do it.
“I can open up any magazine or go to any show and tell you what girls are taking Adderall, how many girls are taking Vicodin, how many girls are throwing up — girls are really resorting to dangerous things,” Scully said.
“I will applaud Anna Wintour and this forum, because it changed how I passed — it made me ask girls’ ages,” Scully continued. “You know, there are times when I will have to book a Karlie Kloss because she’s exceptional, but what makes me sad is the disloyalty in this agency and the way these girls are discarded as though they’re meat. To me, for Karlie Kloss, what is to say what happened to Gemma Ward, what happened to Hilary Rhoda will not happen to her? We all love her today, but when she grows breasts and she turns 18 are we all going to turn on her?” Posen added, “I think we created a droid-like mold and … fashion editors or stylists or now even buyers are trained to look at that and say I can’t see continuity unless I see the same droid-like skeleton on the runway.”
Scully is also troubled by the ages of the top runway girls. “It will never happen, but I would love to see a minimum age of 18, and even that’s not old enough for some of these girls, because it’s hard, and I just think it’s a lot for some of these girls to psychologically deal with.” He continued, “It’s really sad to look at a room of 16-year-old girls who watch Lara Stone walk into a room and they all look at her and say, ‘That’s who I want to be,’ and Lara Stone looks at them and says, ‘I feel terrible about myself.’”
Doutzen Kroes made a decision to take her career in a different direction because she didn’t want to starve herself. “I probably fit the sample size once, when I was eleven or twelve. It became a problem — I was always told lots of times that I should lose weight. It was a thing, ‘You look great, but you should probably lose a few pounds,’” Kroes explained. “That kept going on until I was about 22, and when I was like, ‘This is crazy,’ because I would look in the mirror and I like the way I look.” So Kroes met with her agents: “What we called now a so-called ‘ass meeting,’ because I have one, I have one. It was there, and you know I could maybe get rid of it, I had a choice, not eat maybe for weeks.”
Unlike many models, Kroes had the luxury to choose which direction she wanted to take her career. “I think this is what a lot of girls don’t have now — they have to go back to poor countries if they don’t fit the sample sizes and I hope that after what I’ve done, I’ve chosen that I want to have a healthy lifestyle with the body that I have and work around it and I hope there will be more opportunity for girls to have a choice like that,” she added. In fact, she credits food to her success. “When you don’t eat, you get grumpy, you don’t feel good. So how can you have joy in what you’re doing? And I have that joy and I think that’s what clients see and that’s why I work for two huge global brands. They like working with me, and it’s because I’m eating! There are naturally skinny girls, but not all of them and I’m not one of them.”