Recently, when asked about fashion's continuing trend toward extremely thin models, Karl Lagerfeld said, “It’s a subject I consider ridiculous for several reasons; the story with the anorexic girls — nobody works with anorexic girls, that’s nothing to do with fashion." Clearly, we beg to differ.
Certainly, there can be principled disagreement about whether fashion sets unrealistic, unhealthy standards for society, or whether it simply reflects what society wants to see. There can also be honest debate about whether "skinny" models perpetuate anorexia, or whether it's foolishly reductive to attribute a highly complicated psychological disorder to a single, social factor. But, there can be no question that there are working, anorexic models who designers, agents, and editors not only book, but sometimes actually prefer to healthier women, thereby implicitly or explicitly encouraging continued self-destructive behavior.
Flipping through editorials every day and sitting beside runways every fashion week, we see many of the young women who are paid to represent fashion brands displaying an extreme lack of healthy body fat and muscle that, almost certainly, comes through active malnourishment. Testimony from former and present models offers first-hand corroboration that, yes, some of these naturally thin models push their bodies to unnatural extremes demonstrating — if not true anorexic disorders — anorexic behaviors. So, with all of that said, it's very disappointing to hear someone we admire, from a creative and visionary perspective, deny it.
Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions on, this, the most controversial issue in fashion. And yes, sometimes Karl is just gonna be Karl and we have to deal with it. But, the patently false assertion that, "no one works," with anorexic models in fashion is either extremely ignorant, misstated, delusional, or disingenuous (take your pick). However they come upon their disorder as individuals and whatever you think of their possible influence on others, visibly anorexic women are still very present in fashion. In our opinion that's a social, ethical, and, frankly, aesthetic problem — one that we'd be closer to solving if those with meaningful influence (e.g. Karl Lagerfeld) just acknowledged it openly and honestly.
But maybe we're taking this out of context, and maybe we're overreacting. See the whole clip above and judge for yourself.
Video: BBC 4.