The term “Heroin chic” was coined in the 90s, when the fashion industry liked models that looked drug-addict thin with pale skin and dark circles underneath their eyes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin_chic). The most famous model that embodied this look was Kate Moss. But is “heroin chic” a passing trend, or is it still a desired look in fashion today? In the following article, Cara Dorris argues that it is. She talks of the ridiculous diets of models, such as Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima. Two weeks before shows, she would only consume liquids. The day before, she wouldn’t even drink anything.
Dorris also talks about the new trends she sees emerging on college campuses. Many women continue to go for a stick-thin figure that’s unattainable without an unhealthy lifestyle. She brings up how recently, a young Australian male model, Andrej Pejic, has had a lot of success modeling women’s clothes due to his child-like, thin body. There is something wrong when the desired body for female models can be found in a very young, skinny male model. It’s quite ironic, because it is physically impossible for women to have such a curve-less and thin body without taking extreme and dangerous measures. Since standards are set impossibly high, Dorris argues that the look of being heroin chic has returned. This topic is something that needs to be looked at due to the fact that women will continue to take drastic measures to make their bodies good enough for the fashion industry. We can’t forget that whatever these models do will also influence young girls all around the world.
It’s been known that many fashion models have used cocaine in order to suppress their appetite and to have enough energy to work all day on a voluntarily empty stomach. This could be considered “old news” due to the fact that this article is from several years ago, but the issue is still occurring today. Cocaine hasn’t been erased from existence, and neither have expectations for models to be exceptionally thin. The use of this addicting drug (and others) has been widely accepted in the fashion industry and in some cases probably encouraged. A British model, Lucy Clarkson, revealed her first-hand experiences with these practices. She confirmed that there was widespread use of cocaine among everyone backstage during photo shoots or runway shows, and even told of a time when it was being served on a silver platter at a London Fashion Week event (http://drugnewsvault.blogspot.com/2005/10/cocaine-catwalk.html). When these women notice that the drug keeps them thin and awake, they probably become quickly addicted to it, mentally and physically.
Many people remember when controversial pictures of the famous English model, Kate Moss, snorting cocaine were publicized in 2005. Many of the contracts she had with major companies, such as Dior, were unaffected by this incident. It seems as if they simply turned a blind eye to the matter, or perhaps they were cocaine users themselves. Dior even had a perfume named “Addict” (http://www.cocaine.org/misc/catwalk.html). What kind of example does this set for other models and young girls? It is so easy for them to start a dangerous habit, although the habit definitely does not come without consequences. Kate Moss’s frequent partying and clear eating disorder has certainly had a toll on her appearance throughout the years. If you’re curious, the website below features pictures of her from each year during 1991-2011.
As a little girl, it is nearly impossible not to look up to the glorified Disney Princesses such as Cinderella and Belle. They were smart, kind, talented, and above all – good looking. You can’t miss their cute faces, lean bodies, thin arms and legs, tiny waists, and big boobs. The movies sometimes correlate success to attractiveness, like in Beauty and the Beast when Gaston says that Belle is the best girl in the town based on the fact that she’s the most beautiful one (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/blogs/nurture-shock/2009/12/01/do-disney-princesses-make-young-girls-obsessed-with-thinness.html) .
The author of the article from the previous link, Po Bronson, noticed these trends as well and wondered if they were affecting his young daughter. She had often expressed concerns about her appearance. He describes a study that found that most girls don’t really start correlating body image messages from the media until about age seven, but after that age they become very susceptible. It is easy to see how a child would compare a princess’ body to their own and feel like they need to be skinnier. In the study, 121 girls from the ages of three to six were shown pictures of ballerinas of varying weights and were asked to select which one was the “real princess”. Fifty percent of them chose the thinnest ballerina, and a very small percentage chose the heaviest.
It’s obvious that these cartoon depictions of princesses portray complete perfection. These animated women are flawless. They must have pretty rigid diet and exercise schedules! If the animators knew that these women would be shown to millions of little girls, then why would they draw them all this way? Is this the ideal woman we need our children to one day embody? The animators may not have thought of the unintended consequences of drawing fictional princesses in this manner, but they are definitely present in our society. All women these days hope to be a little thinner, or at least would want to change their appearance in some way.
It seems to be common knowledge that photos of models in advertisements and magazines are edited, but who decided that creating a perfect, fake, and unattainable body through technology was a good idea? Why would we set impossible standards for everyone? Obviously the women in these images with their flawless skin, hair, and bodies are not real. The effects of these fake women on real women are definitely something our society needs to look at. The following article describes a study done in the UK that surveyed 517 women from ages 16-54. They found that 53 percent of these women were often concerned that they look heavy. Even though this survey was done on a small scale, I’m sure many studies like it have been repeated and have found the same results.
Another disturbing fact is that the former Cosmopolitan editor Leah Hardy has admitted to editing photos of anorexic models to make them look healthier than they actually are. In my opinion, this only enables these women to continue their self-harm, because they’re still technically getting paid for being abnormally thin. As cleverly stated at the end of this article, “advertisers are selling people insecurity”.