Blog: Leonie BarrieSpain’s skinny shove

Leonie Barrie | 26 April 2006

The Spanish government has challenged the country’s largest fashion retailers to try to crack down on what’s being called ‘anorexia chic’ – the rise in the number of eating disorders among young women influenced by the stick-thin models used in ad campaigns. Its crusade is being backed by companies such as Zara and Mango, who have pledged to try to broaden the definition of beauty to include women of all shapes and sizes instead of just size 36 catwalk models and window mannequins.  

A report on the issue is expected within three months. But will it make any difference? Fashion is very much an aspirational business, and we’re all seduced at one time or another by an image or ensemble in a magazine or shop window that invariably bears no resemblance at all to the reality that confronts us in the changing room mirror. But it’s clearly shocking when women (and it is usually women, although instances of anorexia and bulimia in men are on the rise) feel the need to take extreme measures in the pursuit of a body shape they believe will make them happy, more confident and successful. And I for one believe there is definitely a link between the two.   

The voluntary withdrawal of smaller-sized clothes from shop window displays is one suggestion from the Spanish team, and a switch to bigger models another. But there will also be drawbacks if the issue is self-regulated, since it’ll be all too easy for the industry to slip back to its thinner ways if there are signs of a sales slide. The Spanish fashion industry has agreed to participate in a study of the issue, with a report expected in three months.

Spain sizes up real women


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