The phenomenon of the size 0 celebrity has been eclipsed by the even more disturbing emergence of the size 00 celeb (size 2 here - if that bears thinking about!). In a society obsessed with body image this new trend sends out a message to young girls and other body conscious people to conform to a dangerous and mostly unobtainable stereotype. It needs to be emphasized that a healthy BMI, body fat percentage and waist size are much more important than fitting into the smallest size in Topshop!
The danger in idolising slender stars such as Victoria Beckham, Hilary Duff and Kate Bosworth is that they become a “thinspiration” for young women. Some might even say waif like celebrities are promoting anorexia. These women who have dieted to child size measurements are at risk of nutritional deficiencies which could cause osteoporosis and irregular periods which in turn will affect fertility. Are these celebrities the types of role models young women should aim to look like?
Worryingly the growth in popularity of pro-anorexia websites has coincided with the increasing number of shockingly thin celebrities and models portrayed on television and magazine covers.
Victoria Beckham is cited as being the star that pro-anorexic followers would most look like. “She has beautiful bones sticking out of her chest” wrote one woman. Posh Spice tips the scales at 7 stone and has admitted to being close to an eating disorder in the past. It is distressing that an underground culture of anorexic and bulimic teenage girls have made her their icon.
Recent events on the catwalk of Madrid have sparked controversy on the appropriateness of using alarmingly underweight models. Madrid city council banned models with a BMI of less than 18 from the fashion show. Milan fashion week then followed by opening with a plus-size show.
It is heartening to see that Crystal Renn, a plus sized model who overcame an eating disorder herself , is now fronting the new ad campaign for Dolce & Gabbana. The tragic death of Luisel Ramos, a 22 year old Uruguayan model while participating in a fashion show may be the catalyst for these ground breaking changes in the fashion world. It is speculated that she starved herself for days before the show causing her to suffer from heart failure.
It is horrifying to believe that a modern society can step back and allow a young woman die for the sake of her job.
Should the media, in good conscience, portray the size 00 celebrity as something to aspire to? Whether the move away from the super skinny gathers weight will not be down to the models and celebrities, but will depend on the media and whether they decide to accept the duty that falls on them to consider the content of their newspapers and magazines more carefully. Only time will tell if this happens or not.