Yesterday, I was asked by NBC to comment on the impact of the super-skinny model and whether or not the fashion industry has done enough to change the unrealistic (and, need I say, unhealthy) body ideals set forth by the industry. If you’re reading this, you most likely know where I stand. The mission of The Beauty Bean is, after all, to give women a place to get their beauty, fitness and fashion fix without the all-too-common focus on weight-loss (and without being inundated with airbrushed images).

While some people argue that Fashion Week, for example, is merely aspirational art and doesn’t impact us on a deeper level, my research shows otherwise. Women and girls are actually profoundly affected by the images they see in their monthly glossies and the bodies they watch walk the runway. Our self-confidence is affected and the way we treat our bodies is impacted – leading both to restrictively disordered eating (like anorexia nervosa) and to the obesity epidemic. We need to put the focus on health. We need to beautify, sweat, lust, nourish and pamper. We need to broaden the definition of beauty and show that worth isn’t measured by a number on a scale or a label on a dress.

See my clip from NBC here and please comment below. I would love to know what you think.

Sincerely,
Alexis

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

20 Comments

  1. Maureen Shaw Reply

    Alexis –

    I think you’re spot on — these women, while certainly beautiful in their own rights, are not representative of women as a whole. This absolutely leads to body image problems, and for some, serious problems (i.e., eating disorders). And I’m sorry, but even making sample sizes a 4 (“oh we never use models that are size 0”) is still just as bad, when you consider the average woman is a size 12! It doesn’t appear that the fashion industry is going to change, so here’s to hoping that women find the strength within themselves to love and appreciate how they look, no matter what their size!

  2. I completely agree with you. As a mother of a ten-year- old daughter, I find it difficult to look through magazines and advertisemnts and find a realistic role model for my daughter to emulate. I too think these two industries do very little to celebrate inner beauty and health.

  3. Thanks for the post. It seems that this issue is consistently in the spotlight, but really no progress has been made on the discussion, the root causes or the concrete proposals for rectifying the situation.

    While celebs and *some* in the fashion world highlight this as a problem, the overwhelming majority speak volumes through both their silence and their continued practice is using and casting super skinny models.

    For this discussion to make any progress, those who continue to help propagate the trend via their participation (designers, agencies, the models themselves), need to actually come forward and also engage in the discussion.

    In my adult lifetime, I have not seen any real change in the attitudes towards the industry’s preference for skinny, young models.

  4. The focus should be on the fashion which is why im a little confused…Designers should want models that make their clothes look good, not take the attention away from their collections because of their unhealthy image. Also, I will never understand why girls idealise size zero women. I am a size 2 and can hardly ever find clothes in the store to fit me. People also make comments about my size and it makes me uncomfortable. Its how I naturally am and theres nothing i can do about it. There a fine line between supporting the ‘average’ sized women and throwing a negative cloud over naturally thin women…..the argument needs to be about healthy body image, not banning models because of their particular clothing size as I have seen mentioned in other articles. That would be like going from one extreme to the other. I think youre doing a great job to promote the healthy body images and self confidence! I hope the industry listens to you!!

  5. Hi Alexis!
    As mentioned to you on Twitter,there is a lot of debate about size however I find height is also a major issue. All elite modelling agencies have height restrictions as well as size restrictions which means girls are immediately rejected for something they have no control over. While this doesn’t cause eating disorders it can definately have a very negative impact on body image as well.

  6. Kate Herman Reply

    Alexis,

    I love that The Beauty Bean focuses on health, loving and appreciating our bodies and does not focus on weight-loss or trying to promote or achieve an unrealistic standard of what we want our bodies to look like (ie- super-skinny models used in fashion week). I do think the use of super-skinny models sets forth an unrealistic and unhealthy image of what women want their bodies to look like as this is what is promoted and celebrated. Your perspective on womens bodies and issues is incredibly refreshing and forward thinking. Great topic!

  7. Becca Gregg Reply

    It baffles me that the industry considers someone like Coco Rocha to be “fat”. Reminds me of that Ralph Lauren controversy a few years ago with Filippa Hamilton- another model whose body we would all kill for. Disgusting.

  8. Alexis, great job on NBC yesterday! It’s so nice to see a fresh face and one that focuses on women being beautiful and fit on the outside and on the inside, instead of focusing on losing weight and being skinny. It seems as if the fashion world has been talking about making changes in regards to the sizes of the fashion models for a few years now, but doesn’t really seem like much progress has been made. I think you make a great point in your interview when saying that the unrealistic images that these fashion models portray can lead to anorexia but can also lead to obesity, both of which are big problems today. Anyway, keep up the good work Alexis!

  9. Hi Alexis, I am a friend of your parents and want you to know what a WONDERFUL JOB you are doing bringing to the light the issue of good health…. NOT VERSUS body image, but good health AS BODY IMAGE! While I realize that an on-line magazine is the trend of the future, I would love to see you produce a hard copy magazine that could compete in the grocery stores with the other “Beauty Magazines” to dispell the thin body model image for the unhealthy hoax it is. I was one of those young girls that suffered from feeling “fat” if I had an extra five pounds on me and worked tirelessly to discipline myself to say slim. As I have gotten older and am now a “senior” I am pleasantly happy to NOT be so disciplined, am enjoying life, and allowing myself the grace and PERMISSION to “age gracefully” . I am grateful to be able to exercise, eat, drink and play tennis!!! Young girls need to be taught NOW the importance of GOOD HEALTH AS BODY IMAGE!!! Keep up the excellent job!
    xoxoJoanne

  10. Hi Alexis,
    Your comments are spot on and in keeping with the majority of women who struggle to maintain their size and a good body image in a culture of skinny. Not too long ago, the sample size was 8! Not 4! Says a lot for where we are now.
    Keep up the good work! We are all on your side.
    Love,
    Rona

  11. Nicole Soussan Reply

    I do appreciate that fashion is an art form, but designers must consider that their art form is “packaged” with real human beings that people notice in addition to their art. It IS a problem when you see not only the models on the runway not look like average women, but also designers on shows like Project Runway complain and whine when they have to design for “real” women instead of their models. It’s insulting and raises the standard of beauty, both in the art of fashion as well as for body-image, beyond a level that most of us can attain.

  12. This topic is so frustrating and seems to be never-ending, but maybe with more articles and awareness like this, right here, the word and message and passion behind this madness will spread like wildfire! I feel fortunate to be someone who does feel comfortable in her own skin (most of the time), but I don’t think that this holds true for most. As dress sizes go down, so do women’s (and girls!) self-esteem. Have any of us ever heard a model being interviewed? Do any of us know what it’s like to live a life like a model? I really wonder if they’re happy and if they find that happiness from within. Are they ever able to fill their own cravings or are they constantly working on the exterior while neglecting the interior? I mean, they certainly don’t look happy walking down those runways. It’s sad and pathetic that we put them on such pedestals because we actually know nothing about them other than their clothing sizes. I feel that this site really emphasizes this “not-so-secret” that we need to work from the inside out in order radiate true happiness and beauty. It starts with each and every one of us. Not with each and every turn of a magazine page. Been there. Done that. We get it. You’re thin. Now put a smile on your face!

  13. Thanks for calling attention to how unhealthy these models are. I see them and I fear that they are going to break in front of me.

  14. This is such a huge issue in this country especially. In my country, India, the woman are curvy and beautiful, however I do feel that the culture of the US and especially NYC where I live is not supportive of that more full-bodied woman. Can we all really learn to love our curves???

    I am excited to see how you trail-blaze this issue Alexis, be our spokeswoman!

    Nitika

  15. Lauren Talbot Reply

    Hey Alexis,

    I think you are right on target. As a former model, I used to scrutinize every morsel I put into my mouth. I concentrated on calories, and fat grams, and my workout regimen, instead of what is more important– real food. Needless to say, I suffered, emotionally, physically… it was terrible.

    Now a nutritionist (and thankfully no longer a model), it has been SO liberating to understand what real beauty is… Sure, I am very petite and thin… but, now, I am so without trying… I eat REAL wholesome foods, and I now understand that the body actually “understands” how to process and utilize the nutrients from a 35 gram of fat, avocado, vs. a 0-cal/0 fat, jello pack, or “spray butter”…

    Aside from the problem our society has with anorexia, binge eating/purging, and even obesity, is not about the weight itself… but about the greater problem of malnourishment. Even models, who claim that they eat these big meals, and who claim that their fav snack is… (fill and the blank), or about the person who eats so much that their health suffers… as a society, we are not getting the nutrients the body needs. Cheaply manufactured goods, and “cookie cutter” products that all look identical to each other, are not natural. They are filled with so many additives, fake sugars, etc. etc. Plain and simple, these foods are not good for us either!!

    When we all have role models that are 6 foot, bean poles, we concentrate too much on the mirror (or at least, I did, and it made me miserable)… When the body is fed real food, weight, skin problems, and illness is not an issue. We get so caught up in the # on the scale, or the numbers on the Nutrition Facts… we forget to look at the big picture– the ingredients!!

    Really cool footage! Congrats!

    Lauren
    diaryofanutritionist.com

  16. François Hofstede Reply

    For me shows the use of women with sizes 4, 6, 8 or so low, that the designer does not know how to make a beautifull dress or an other piece of apparel.
    Next to that, those women with these childlike sizes are ugly. There is nothing womanlike at them. Where for the heck can you see those women. Not at street, not at your work. Only at the catwalk. Awfull.

    The video was cool.
    François

  17. Laurie Borenstein Reply

    Alexis, this clip was great! I want to post it all over the web in hopes that the message reaches as many young girls and women as possible. Our society needs to break free of this perceived image of ‘beauty’ – we are trying so hard to eliminate bad eating habits in exchange for good and healthy ones, but when girls are seeing super skinny models all over magazines and on the runways they are being pulled in a different direction which is very inconsistent with normal, balanced, healthy eating. Here’s to hoping more publications take your lead and expose this practice for what it is!

    Laurie

  18. I am recovering from an eating disorder and it breaks my heart to see these models that are portraying this horrible body image. This disgusting form of media is probably what sent me into my eating disorder in the first place :(

  19. I am a teenage girl, and I am living proof of the affect models and media have on girls’ body images. I used to have good body image, but once I started paying attention to magazines and such, my pride in my body diminished. I wanted to be the size 0 girl in the Victoria’s Secret ads. So to try to fit that mold, I went anorexic. Mind you, I was only a size 4 at the time. I am now recovering from my eating disorder and currently a size 2, but I still don’t feel like I fit what is supposed to be ‘beautiful’.

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