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i-D: "The Effect of Fashion Images on Mental Health"


May 22 2015
Fashion

i-D ’s Ger Tierney reflects upon the controversial co-relation between the fashion industry and today’s beauty standards, focusing on how fashion imagery influences women and their self-esteem. In fact, Ger Tierney investigates the power of fashion pictures and their effects on both the viewing public and the models starring in it. The journalist mainly focuses on the way the woman’s body is portrayed and perceived by today’s fashion industry.

“Fashion is about fantasy and aspiration, and so it should be. A great fashion image is a very powerful and beautiful thing. I can think of a few that evoke a very strong emotive response in me for positive reasons. This is what fashion should be about; inspiration rather insecurity, states the journalist. {“Shouldn’t the images we are putting out to the world be positive and beautiful and make people feel good?“ But Tierney points out that fashion images often lead to a negative feelings and low self-esteem, as most fashion models stay for unhealthy standards of perfection.

“The reality is, an image of a model in a bikini will affect people differently and it will be far more negative to some than to others. It is a very sensitive issue that is not going to be resolved by changes in the fashion industry alone, but if we can make a difference in some small way to the models we work with everyday, and from there the public, then I believe we have a responsibility to do so,“ states the journalist. She further highlights that the meaning of “thin” among fashion industry professionals is massively skewed. “We have become immune to the fact that the majority of models we are working with are under pressure to remain thin,“ she admits.

In this sense, Tierney believes that is time to replace the ideal of ethereal and very young beauties with more realistic and healthy examples, which have a strong personality and not just a pretty face. In order to do so “every section of the industry could take a stand; designers, casting agents, model agencies and magazines could all put provisions in place to ensure each and every girl they work with is healthy.“

But things already began to change. In 2009, Alexandra Shulman, British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, wrote a letter to designers calling for an end to size zero models. In addition, model street castings are becoming increasingly popular, as “the idea of real people selling a brand or product is becoming more and more appealing to a post-internet audience, who are bombarded with glossy imagery every day”.

According to the journalist, the highest achievement would be to make a fashion image something to enjoy and take pride in, not something that has to be defended. 
“Women no longer want to be bombarded with a bevy of nameless teenagers barely out of school. We want a character before us, someone to inspire us and most of all, not to feel bad about ourselves when we look at a beautiful image.“

Read the full article on i-D’s website.