Diane Von Furstenberg Reminds Designers That Models Are Human, Too

New York Fashion Week starts in about two weeks, and that means editors, models, bloggers, and fashion-y celebs will descend upon the Big Apple for a weeklong marathon of runway shows and swanky parties. It also means that the industry needs a refresher on keeping models happy and healthy.

Since 2007, CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb have been urging designers to not use underage and unhealthy-looking models. Of course, the Health Initiative is more like a set of guidelines, which most modeling agencies and designers have followed. But there are always people who don’t, like Marc Jacobs and even DVF, as both of them have been caught using underage girls — some more apologetically than others. Even models themselves often disregard the rules that are put in place to keep them healthy, and lie about their age so they can walk in a show.

So what’s different this season? Not much, but von Furstenberg and Kolb are still pushing the Health Initiative:. Here’s the full breakdown:

  • Educate the industry to identify the early warning signs in an individual at risk of developing an eating disorder.
  • Encourage models who may have an eating disorder to seek professional help in order to continue modeling. And models who are receiving professional help for an eating disorder should not continue modeling without that professional’s approval.
  • Develop workshops for the industry (including models and their families) on the nature of eating disorders, how they arise, how we identify and treat them, and complications if they are untreated.
  • Support the well-being of younger individuals by not hiring models under the age of sixteen for runway shows; not allowing models under the age of eighteen to work past midnight at fittings or shoots; checking IDs to ensure that models are the appropriate age; providing regular breaks and rest. Consult the applicable labor laws found at www.labor.state.ny.us when working with models under sixteen.
  • Supply healthy meals, snacks, and water backstage and at shoots and provide nutrition and fitness education.
  • Promote a healthy backstage environment by raising the awareness of the impact of smoking and tobacco-related disease among women, ensuring a smoke-free environment, and address underage drinking by prohibiting alcohol.

While we are definitely on board with keeping underage and unhealthy-looking models off the runway, the fact that designers need to be reminded of these basic guidelines is kind of sad. Every designer says that they design for the American woman, so why are they still using incredibly thin, underage girls? And why do they need a reminder every season that models are humans, and have rights, too?

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