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A surprise announcement from Vogue

The May edition of Vogue (photoshopped image)

BY MIA FREEDMAN

When Vogue talks, the fashion industry listens. So I was ecstatic to hear that the iconic magazine brand has finally addressed the issue of underage, underweight models and acknowledged that they send a damaging message to their readers.

“Vogue believes that good health is beautiful,” Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Conde Nast International, Vogue’s publishers, said in a statement published in all 10 international editions yesterday. The editors have agreed to “not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder”.

Obviously, this poses some slippery questions such as how a fashion editor might go about establishing the mental, physical or emotional health of a model. Are they going to ask when the model last ate? When she last binged and purged? But look, it’s a welcome and positive start. At last!

For too long the magazine industry has flagrantly refused to acknowledge the impact on women caused by the images they publish. Images that implicitly tell us what’s normal and desirable. It’s also worth asking why teen models were ever used to model designer clothing costing thousands of dollars to women in their 30s, 40s and 50s. How does that even make sense?

I’d still like to see Vogue and other magazines declare their use of Photoshop on images where it’s been used to drastically change the size, shape or appearance of models. And a commitment to reduce this type of extreme Photoshop that’s become a standard feature of fashion imagery. So yes, there is still a long long way to go until magazines are reflecting a more realistic, diverse portrayal of women. But the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Let’s hope that Vogue has begun a conversation in the fashion and magazine industries which will help bridge the gap between women and the glossies.

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