I’m going to forgive New York magazine’s lazy title tag (The Unbearable Thinness of Being a Model) because the story is a compelling read.
Writer Emily Nussbaum jumps into the skinny-model debate, and for much of the story, it’s more of the same (Natalia Vodianova’s panel speech, models dying, etc.). Her approach gets more compelling, though, when she touches on the class issues involved for many of the Eastern European models:
“And [the pressure to be thin] goes double for the new breed of models, many of whom come, like Vodianova, from the poorest regions of Eastern Europe. For these girls, pressures to stay thin may be a small price to pay for escaping the small towns they came from.”
The teenage girls who come from these poor areas have very few prospects back home. Without adequate education or job opportunities, let’s face it, modeling is their only potential way out of poverty.
Put yourself in the place of one of these girls. You are 15 years old and you have the opportunity to get yourself out of a sorry situation, travel the world and maybe send some money to help your family back home. So if losing ten pounds is the difference between you being booked or not getting a dime, what are you going to do? You’re probably going to do whatever it takes to stay employed.
Outside of the fashion business, people look at these emaciated girls and condemn them for encouraging eating disorders. And yes, there are many women and girls who look at Iekeliene Stange and think, “I need to look like her.” But what they don’t see is that within the industry, these girls aren’t trying to be thin so they can turn some Iowan farmgirl into an anorexic; they’re trying to be thin to keep getting work.