In the fashion industry, it's no secret that the sample size for clothing has been shrinking, reflecting the average size of models. In fact, there have been laws enacted and initiatives put into place to prevent such a small body shape from becoming standard -- with little effect, unfortunately.
This topic was discussed by the pros who know best as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week during a panel hosted by NEDA and the Model Alliance at Pace University on Monday. The panel, called “Inside the Modeling Industry: A Conversation About Health and Beauty in Fashion,” included models Crystal Renn, Katharine Schuette and Amy Lemons, modeling agent Chris Gay, eating disorder specialist Dr. Evelyn Attia and Ashley Mears, a former model and assistant professor of sociology.
Renn, who found success as a plus-size model after a brief straight-size career, suggested that designers increase their sample size from a 0 to an 8. "By having a size 8 sample, you are giving freedom to a designer," she said. "Most of the models are going to be size 6s and 8s, and you could have 10s, and if a really amazing model walked in who was a size 0, you would tailor the dress down to her."
As of now, designers seem to be tailoring the industry, so to speak, to the size 0 girl. Plus-size supermodels like Renn and Robin Lawley, the most recent face of Ralph Lauren, are few and far between, while fashion magazine images are increasingly inspiring pro-anorexia sites. What's more, the extreme positioning of the plus-sized and the typical runway model doesn't seem to leave a place for the average-size model.
"The industry standards are ridiculous," Gay, president of Marilyn Model Agency, said. “They’re not standards a woman can keep through her life or her career ... You’re replacing good models with new models because of unrealistic standards.”
A massive overhaul of sample sizes would be a huge feat for an industry plagued with rampant Photoshopping and broken promises when it comes to focusing on the health of models. But a size 8 sample might just be what the public needs to counteract the damage too-skinny models inflict on a person's psyche.
We're certainly on board with Renn's idea to accomodate a larger range of sizes, but what about you? Do you think the industry should have bigger samples than a size 0? Sound off in the comments!
Check out some of our favorite plus-size models!