Runway Models = Anorexic? Plus-sized = Size 6? {Nudity}

Via Hannah Siegle
on Jan 12, 2012
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Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman.

Today she weighs 23% less.

PLUS Model Magazine came out with a powerful pictorial in which it claims that most runway models meet the BMI criteria for anorexia, which is considered to be under 17.5.

The pictures show a plus-sized model (size 12?) paired with another strikingly skinny woman.

The magazine wants clothing retailers to start catering to more women as they claim more than 50% of women wear a size 14 or larger. What is a plus-sized model these days?

A size 6 to 14. Is that even plus-sized? Last time I checked those sizes weren’t in a plus-sized section of a store!

In fact the skinny women in this case is more likely to be “unhealthy” than the “plus-sized” one. These models fall within the healthy range of BMI’s. A BMI that is too low can lead to a weakened immune system, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer.

What do you think of this claim about the models, the call to cater clothing more to the 50%, or these photos? Should BMI be a factor in judging health as it doesn’t take into account those who have small or large bone structures or a lot of muscle.



Relephant Bonus:

Why the ‘Real Woman’s’ Body Image Debate Is All Wrong. 


Photo Credits:


About Hannah Siegle

Hannah Siegle began to do yoga four years ago initially for the physical practice, however she quickly discovered that the yoga began to do her in ways she never anticipated. The mind, body and spiritual connection that yoga cultivates has helped Hannah through the ups and downs of life, both large and small. She regularly blogs at Balancing on Two Feet on topics such as yoga, mindfulness, eating disorder recovery and all those things people don't like to talk about. She was trained at the RYT 200 through Laurel Hodory and is currently working towards becoming a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She teaches yoga throughout Central Ohio with GoYoga ,yogaServe, and also works as an Assistant Editor for the elephant journal!


45 Responses to “Runway Models = Anorexic? Plus-sized = Size 6? {Nudity}”

  1. onelegkahn says:

    The average woman these days eats 24% more. That is why now the models appear to be 24% lighter.

  2. Chloe says:

    There's a fine line between skinny and too skinny, as well as a fine line between curvy and unhealthy. The reason runway models now weigh 23% less is because in the last 20 years obesity rates in America have doubled.
    I totally support embracing the curve and that the runway model is too thin. However there is a point where we need to decide whether advertising and glorifying unhealthy lifestyles and obesity is the right thing to do either. I recently saw a reality show depicting plus size models, one of which loved her body but had to quit and lose weight because she developed diabetes and other health issues. Neither extreme should be acceptable to glorify in the media.
    Whatever women grace our magazines or television screens, we should realize we have no control over it, and be comfortable in our own skin. I was raised knowing the people in the media are not who I should try to emulate, which is something I'm going to ingrain into my children as well.

  3. Hannah says:

    Great discussion everyone! Keep it up

  4. catnipkiss says:

    I agree that it is not healthy PSYCHOLOGICALLY to show the runway/print model ideals as a woman with sticks for appendages, no boobs (unless they are plastic) and a backbone that you can count all the vertabrae on. I aspire to be more healthy, leaner, and fit, but I do not aspire to be a stick-figure. Unfortunately, the "clothes hang better" on skinny models adage appears to be true; there are many things I cannot wear (or shouldn't wear!) because of my shapely body. Every woman should be able to think for herself and aspire to her personal best version of fit, not the one that is shown as "normal". (and really has nothing to do with beauty or fitness or proper BMI, or any of that – it's about selling clothes, and selling us a bill of goods while they are at it.) – Alexa Maxwell

  5. So many are lost in the unhealthy extremes and what a healthy body weighs has become, sadly, ambiguous to most. I think the anorexic-looking models perpetuate the insecurity that leads average weight women to feel defective in their appearance. Feelings of being defective feed insecurities, which can lead to turning to food for comfort, and weight gain. Obesity has become more rampant than anorexia, and yet I feel the two are feeding off each other, no pun intended! Skinny and Fat are two sides of the same coin. A healthy body is not part of either one of these pictures. Yes! I feel we need more clothing companies catering to healthy bodies! And the shame of being too fat, or the glory of being too thin, needs to disappear. I am a self portrait artist who uses her own body as art. And my body represents that of an average sized woman. t is "obese" from a runway model's perspective, perhaps. But it is still art! It is still beautiful! :-) Thank you for always encouraging society to return to healthy assessment of beauty, and the kinds of bodies we feel happy and free in!

  6. Just posted to Elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook.

    Bob W.

  7. Thanks so much for bringing this to light. The statistics are truly shocking and appalling! Great piece Hannah! – Jeannie

  8. gina says:

    We also need to take into account that there is more pollution in our environment which is effecting our thyroid gland. If the thyroid is not working properly and becomes sluggish our metabolism changes, we gain weight and it is impossible to lose the weight no matter what the amount of food we eat. Our food is ridden with chemicals and are Genetically Modified so our bodies do not know how to process it. Wheat allergies (GMO wheat) are up and many who are over weight might have gluten issues. The gluten just sits in the body causing inflammation and bloating and won't allow nutrients to absorb into the body so if the nutrients aren't absorbed we eat more. There is so much more to weight gain than saying fat people just eat too much. The allergies can also cause leaky gut and this goes on and on.
    Most doctors do not check thyroid levels or check for wheat and other allergies. The just prescribe to hide symptoms. We really need to look at how FOOD is processed and how this processed food is metabolized by our bodies………the very dark secret about our food supply!

  9. I think it has to be noted that while she does weigh 23% less now, the societal norm is also QUITE a bit larger now… in fact from 1988 to 2002 the average BMI of the female population went up almost two points… which is QUITE significant and cannot be discounted.

    If you took today's model and plopped her into the modeling scene 20 years ago she wouldn't weigh 23% less than the average population as the average population was thinner.

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  14. Diane Clar says:

    I've seen so many skinny models who fall off their feet because of imbalance. I think their light weight is one of the factors it keeps on happening. The beautiful models of the Sydney modelling agency is not an exception to this, although I must say their models are really beautiful and professional on the runway.

  15. Kristen says:

    I don’t understand why everyone is focusing on the fact that obesity is on the rise. I’m pretty sure everyone is already aware of that. The “plus size” model in this image is not plus size, she is healthy and average. Making women feel as if healthy and average is fat is toxic. Just another way society manipulates people to have them spend their life focusing on emptiness. I am a fit lady that also has very big hips and a juicy booty. My waist has always been 30 inches, but I wear a size 13 in pants. I have come to love my curves, but growing up was made to feel ugly and ashamed for the healthy womanly blessing given to me. I am currently 3 months pregnant and have never been more thrilled about my wide hips! I will always make sure my child eats well and is active, and hope that they never feel the pressure and misery I felt growing up regarding my body even though I was exceptionally healthy.

  16. A. Photographer says:

    As has already been pointed out it is not the models who have become thinner, it is the 'average woman' who has become much fatter. Why not try the comparison between the average athlete and the average woman? That would show you who is the healthy weight…

    The problem is not pictures of models (and I know many of them), it is the industrialisation of farming which sells us all toxic food and tells us it is good for us. Historically people were healthier when their food intake was rationed during wartime!

  17. Jane says:

    Not too impressed with the harsh comments about 17.5 being an unhealthy BMI. It's all perspective-A lot of athletes and fitness gurus have 15% BMI. And they are probably twice the size of the fashion model. Currently I'm probably at 5'5" 19% BMI, 123lbs, and a size 2-4. I'm healthy, fit, and I definitely don't deprive myself.

  18. Interesting topic! We come in all shapes and sizes, and there's no one size that's right for everyone. Ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph. Vata, Pitta, Kapha. I don't feel that BMI is a always an adequate indicator of a healthy body.

  19. Andrie Sismondo says:

    A BMI of 15 is frighteningly low and not at all healthy. Perhaps you are confusing it with body fat percentage? A larger (eg more muscled) person will have a higher BMI. It measures weight compared to height, nothing more. There are relatively few people who are healthy at a BMI of 17.5, but there are none who are properly healthy at a BMI of 15.

  20. Miriam says:

    Not that this is the main point of the article, but clothing sizes are not reliable. When I was growing up in the 80's, I wore size 10 jeans. I am now 46 and still wear size 10 jeans. I weighed 127 pounds in 1985 and currently weigh 175 pounds. Just saying. I think we are deluding ourselves when we say 12 or 14 is a normal, non-overweight size.

  21. abbyrosmarin says:

    This hits home for me. I have been modeling since I was 19. I'm 5'11" and, because of my body structure, I will never be smaller than a size 4, but you can usually find me at a size 6 – 8. I was told when I was 21 by a casting director that I was better off marketing myself as plus size, because no one in the fashion industry would use me for any of their "normal" jobs. Then I hear stories about girls with much smaller frames than mine, much smaller BMIs than mine, being turned away from places like H&M and Forever21 for being "too big"… I wish people would get that the more we fetishize hyper-skinny, the harder it becomes to promote a healthy lifestyle, creating a weird "binge or purge" culture in response to the fetishization.

  22. Julia says:

    I am not a runway model, and I am definitely not anorexic. In fact, I eat more than most people I know, including men. I have very small bones. I am 5'8'' and weigh 97 lbs. That's right. And I'm not anorexic looking, either. I have plenty of flesh on my bones. I'm just very slender and tall. I look, in short, like a model. I am sick and tired or being told I need to eat a cheeseburger, and I'm sick and tired or seeing people with my body type referred to as "anorexic." Statistically, there are many, many people who look like me that eat three full meals a day with lots of snacks in between. In fact, most people I know with my body type eat more than the average person. I am perfectly healthy, and frankly many of these conversations are fueled by the jealously of others. Do I think my body type should be regarded as superior? No. I think all healthy people should feel good about themselves. All people should feel good about themselves, period. But anorexia will not ever get a person who doesn't have my body type to look like me, and calling people who look like me abnormal or unhealthy is offensive and hurtful. All of us have had it.

  23. laportama says:

    ♪ ♫I love you
    just the way
    you are. ♫ ♪

  24. amazing that last photo, it looks like the plus-size model could be the mother of the skinny model.

  25. Maurice says:

    I don't think the problem is so much that the modeling industry is extreme, but that inadvertently we are advocating body envy, no matter how the magazine covers look if young people are busy trying to emulate the covers they are not appreciating their own beauty.

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