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The Naked Truth About Models in the Fashion Industry

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The Naked Truth About Models in the Fashion Industry

Within the fashion industry, designers, models, agents and scouts rapidly develop a mental metabolism that provides them with a significant role, enhancing their success and familiarity with the ever-changing world of today's industry. Yet for obtaining and recollecting all this knowledge, the severe subject of anorexia nervosa continues to move stealthily into the lives of these imperative figures. The visual texts produced by Mike Keefe and Oliviero Toscani convey parallel messages, but do so through opposite approaches of ethos, logos, pathos, medios, and humos.

The segregation within the restrooms between men, women and models implies that models are not seen as human beings of either sex; rather a separate category or species of their own. Through the use of ethos, pathos, medios and humos, the artist of this political cartoon, Mike Keefe, expresses his personal outlook on present day models. First, Keefe uses logos to catch the attention by labeling the bathroom doors men, women and models. On the men's and women's door, the silhouettes are average sized, whereas the silhouette on the model's door appears to have a large head with very thin limbs. When a person suffers from anorexia nervosa, a common sign is his/her head being disproportionally large in comparison to the body (Kennedy). This isolation immediately informs the viewer that Keefe has a mindset that models are not, in fact, what constitutes as "normal" within society.

Additionally, by having the small figurine on the model's door, Keefe utilizes medios. For many decades, models on the runway have become increasingly smaller and smaller. On average a model in the 1960's weighed between 125 and 129 lbs. Now, the typical weight of a runway model ranges from 91 to 105 lbs.(Elllis-Christensen).

Moreover, by segregating models from the male and female genders through lavatory units, Keefe further hints at a possible eating disorder other than anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa. This arrangement was strategic, forcing the reader to take note of the separated bathrooms. Those suffering with bulimia nervosa most commonly binge on large amounts of food, shortly followed by purging the contents of their meal into a toilet or garbage can (Elllis-Christensen). By using bathrooms to separate models from "normal" beings, Keefe executes his belief that today's models suffer with eating disorders and are secluded from the category of the "average American."

Finally, through ethos, Keefe reiterates his belief that models are unhealthy. The sign pointed up toward the stairs labeled "FASHION SHOW" signifies that there is one currently taking place. If a model were to rid herself of her food before digesting it, this would most likely be done before a large event in which she needs to appear thinner, such as a fashion show. Additionally, the janitor in the scene is smoking and his eyes seem to be closed; his mood appears to be composed and tranquil, and his body language is nonchalant as he mops the floor and smokes. This implies that Keefe sees eating disorders as a natural occurrence in the world, and that although it is serious, it is overlooked as "normal." Moreover, the janitor's back is to the segregated restrooms. This arrangement is symbolic in the fact that as the janitor has his back to the restrooms (that symbolize bulimia nervosa), society is also turning their heads away from the elephant in the room that is eating disorders within the fashion industry. Overall, Keefe hints at these odd behaviors, from their oddly petite sizes to eating habits, all while having logical reasoning behind each detail of the visual text through ethos, pathos, medios and humos.

The raw nudity and blank expression on the model of the Nolita advertisement heightens the awareness of anorexia nervosa within runway models. From the stoic stare in her sunken eyes to the crisp jawline of her emaciated face, one can assume that this woman is not only ill, but suffering greatly. On a literal level, the photograph is making an example of an anorexic model, Isabelle Caro (Kennedy). In September of 2007, around the time of Milan's Fashion Week, Nolita, an Italian designer, put this ad out on billboards and as newspaper advertisements to raise the awareness of anorexia nervosa. A year prior, "skinny" models were banned from runways (CNN ). Madrid's regional government stated that the body mass index (BMI) of each and every model was to be calculated, and if his or her BMI was not above 18, they were not to walk (F) .

Thematically, this photo displays the harshening effects of anorexia nervosa. The message to the audience was that anorexia nervosa is a very serious disease that makes an enormous impact on the body mentally, physically and emotionally; although Fashion Week is a monumental event within the fashion industry, those so closely involved need to start directing more attention to the health of the women that make it conceivable for them to showcase their pieces, advertise their lines and express their creative and artistic minds (Kennedy). This can be achieved if the industry points out the elephant in the room, the common eating disorders, and puts forth a greater effort to establish precautions and enforce a healthy BMI, as well as consequences



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