Eating Disorders: Why Are Fashion Models Prone to Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders have become a prevalent topic of research studies, particularly in Western cultures. In the United States, between 0.3 and 0.9% of the adolescent and young adult populations have anorexia nervosa, between 0.5 and 0.5% are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, and between 1.6 and 3.5% are suffering from binge eating disorders (Blodgett et al.).
Relevant literature attributes the development of eating disorders to the following causative factors: sociocultural, psychological, and biological factors. The fashion industry, in particular, is largely influenced by sociocultural factors. Fashion models are prone to developing eating disorders primarily because of the fashion industry’s promotion of ideals of extreme thinness.
Indeed, fashion models have been reported to experience high levels of pressure to lose weight as a prerequisite for employment, which leads to their increased risk for developing eating disorders. In a qualitative study conducted by Pretti el al. which “investigated the prevalence of eating disorders in a group of 55 fashion models born in Sardinia, Italy” (86), it was found that these models had significantly higher symptoms of eating disorders and prevalence of partial syndromes of eating disorders. These findings were supported by the findings of the study conducted by Santonastaso et al., which investigated if the prevalence of eating disorders is higher among fashion models compared to other female groups. Findings of their study indicate that fashion models are more at risk for partial eating disorders compared to females belonging to the general population.
Fashion models are at an increased risk of developing eating disorders because of the ideal body image perpetuated by the fashion industry, which borders on extreme thinness. To secure employment, models are pressured to lose weight. Therefore, fashion models are prone to developing eating disorders as a consequence of the requirement in the profession to maintain a slim figure.
Blodgett Salafia, Elizabeth H et al. “Perceptions of the Causes of Eating Disorders: A Comparison of Individuals with and without Eating Disorders.” Journal of Eating Disorders vol. 3 32. 15 Sep. 2015, doi:10.1186/s40337-015-0069-8.
Preti, Antonio, et al. “Eating Disorders among Professional Fashion Models.” Psychiatry Research, vol. 159, 2008, pp. 86–94.
Santonastasso, Paolo, et al. “Are Fashion Models a Group at Risk for Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse?” Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, vol. 71, no. 3, 2002, pp. 168–172.
Zancu, Simona Alexandra, and Violeta Enea. “Eating Disorders among Fashion Models: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, vol. 22, no. 3, 2016, pp. 395–405.
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