Yoon: Fashion designers plant seeds of eating disorders

The fashion industry has long been known for the unethical physical standards placed on supermodels - criteria more recently seen as the root of eating disorders around the world.

This is the real skinny about the really skinny supermodels in the industry: If models were purebred dogs instead of underfed women, there would be an outcry over the abusive standards for appearing in shows and photo shoots. The requirement for women who aspire to the catwalk is size 0, though overachieving under-eaters seem to be striving for less than that.

If the industry needed a wake-up call, it got one when the models started dropping dead from complications of anorexia. Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos, who was told to lose weight, died after taking her turn on the catwalk in 2006. Months of consuming only lettuce and diet soda resulted in a "perfect" figure, and heart failure.

Organizers of Madrid's Fashion Week caught designer's scorn for banning the unreasonably thin models from their show. But face it: Madrid's move was a brilliant marketing strategy, because, after all, raise your hand if you even knew Madrid had a fashion week. Unfazed, pompous New York City carried on its Fashion Week as usual and supermodels had fingers pointed at them from all directions as the cause of eating disorders in today's society.

It's a known fact that a staggering number of females and even males will go through some form of an eating disorder during their lifetime. According to the National Eating Disorders Web site, 10 million females and 1 million males in America, have an eating disorder.

But really, it's not the skeletal supermodel's fault. She comes to a foreign country where the language is incomprehensible (except when her boss manages to pinch half a centimeter of flab off her stomach and tells her she's too fat) to send monthly checks to her family back home. When girls as young as 15 years old get to walk instead of her because of their pre-pubescent, thin silhouettes, what else can she do but starve herself?

Who is to blame for the eating disorder epidemic? The agencies will blame the designers and the designers will blame the demands of the photographers. Photographers will then turn to the magazine and advertisement executives, who will claim consumers won't buy their products unless glamour is idealized. Apparently we, the consumers, have subconsciously defined glamour to be natural fibers flowing on emaciated bodies.

And who could deny it? Gucci shoes were not made for fat feet. What self-respecting Chanel store carries sizes above a 10? The trend of bubble hem skirts and tight jeans would look like clown costumes on the wrong girl.

Shouldn't these designers be designing outfits for the average woman as well? Aren't these fashion moguls supposed to be the most skilled and talented in their field? One would expect such high-end designers to be capable of coming up with clothes for people who eat three meals a day - especially after considering the big bucks the thumb-sized tag claims the clothes are worth.

So before you blame the starving models for the rising popularity of eating disorders, take a closer look at the fat cats of fashion themselves.

Esther Yoon is a sophomore biology major who nevertheless buys Gucci handbags.