'Say No to Anorexia' Ads Pass the Buck and Miss the Point

Illustration for article titled 'Say No to Anorexia' Ads Pass the Buck and Miss the Point

Over on BuzzFeed, Copyranter has posted a series of ads from Brazil. Star Models is that country's branch of Ford Models* and the ads involve a glamorous fashion sketch placed side by side with a model Photoshopped to appear painfully thin. The tagline:

You Are Not A Sketch. Say No To Anorexia.

Illustration for article titled 'Say No to Anorexia' Ads Pass the Buck and Miss the Point

Unfortunately, this smacks of passing the buck. The modeling agency places the blame squarely on the shoulders of designers, as though designers draw ensembles on stick ladies and women dream of looking like stick ladies. The truth is, pro-ana blogs, Tumblrs and messageboards are usually not filled with sketches but with actual women — models and celebrities sure, but lots of dancers and thin but not-famous women — and their fetishized bodies and/or bodyparts. Many people caught up in disordered eating don't care about how they look to others, only how they look to themselves. They believe the mirror lies; a fashion sketch has nothing to do with it.

Furthermore, anorexia is a complicated disease. Sometimes it's about fashion, sometimes it's not. The eating disorder existed before there were glossy magazines filled with leggy, angular supermodels. It is often linked to depression, OCD, fixation of perfection and anxiety disorder. That said, there are cultural triggers, and studies show that girls and women of all ages are influenced by magazines when it comes to how they picture an "ideal" body. These magazines feature models, not sketches.

It's as though Star Models wants to shift the blame away from themselves, suggesting that if the designers would create clothes for average bodies, the agency wouldn't have to seek out and hire very thin women. Maybe there's some truth in that. But our society's fetishization of thinness goes a lot deeper; it's tied to concepts of wealth, glamour, health, aspiration, sex appeal, self-control, socio-economic dominance and aesthetics, and changing it will take a lot more than a "just say no" ad campaign.

Alarming Anorexia Ads Via Brazil [Copyranter/BuzzFeed]

*Star Models is not affiliated with Ford Models, I regret the error.



When I was in college I originally wanted to go into fashion design, for no other reason than I liked clothes... I had to take a fashion elective my freshman year before I actually joined the major, and it rid me of any desire to ever enter that world.

It was a fashion life drawing class where we had to exaggerate the body like those sketches. We had a model come in who was incredibly tall and thin, and we were often told to "thin her out" "stretch her out" "tone down her hips and thighs" "lose the fat"... I hated it so much. I hated not being able to draw women they way they looked. When I approached the head of the department about using the major to get in to fantasy costume design, she said 'absolutley not! You'll follow the courses we've layed out for you'. A former student I met up with told me I'd have to watch my back, because everyone was going to steal my ideas, trust no one, blah blah blah... I never did end up in the fashion major. Thank god. I can't imagine being a part of that world day in and day out.