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8 Ugly Facts About How The Fashion Industry Creates Beauty

Whether you're a woman from the U.S., Brazil, Japan, or elsewhere, every day you see images of "beauty" that probably look darn different than you do. Turns out the fashion industry isn't all that good for a lot of models either.

8 Ugly Facts About How The Fashion Industry Creates Beauty

    Superstar models can be among the most powerful women in the world. But here are eight not-so-pretty facts about the seamy underside to an industry that needs oversight and cleaning up:

    1. Models start young. Really young. Cover model Thairine Garcia was 14 when she appeared in the February 2012 issue of Harper's Bazaar Brasil. The Council of Fashion Designers of America recommends only using models older than 16, and child models in New York have brand new legal protection, but the industry is mostly self-regulated, and there is no broader oversight. Designers continue to employ models as young as 13.


    2. Modeling can take a high emotional toll on young women. A 2012 Model Alliance survey of 85 female fashion models in the United States revealed that almost two-thirds of them were told to lose weight and that almost 70% suffered from anxiety or depression. Georgina Wilkin shared her story to call attention to the prevalence of eating disorders among young models. Many girls recruited by the international fashion industry are leaving home for the first time, often unaccompanied by family, and are emotionally unprepared for the pressures of the industry. Isabelle Caro, Ana Carolina Reston, and Hila Elmalich (below) are just three of a number of fashion models to die of complications related to anorexia.

    3. Modeling careers are really, really short. Young women typically model only about three seasons. Every new runway show features about 70% new faces.

    4. It may look glamorous but the pay is not. The median salary?

    5. The financial picture can be even bleaker for young women recruited from other countries. After paying for visas, flights, accommodations, and tests (expenses they aren't always notified about in advance), even before their first casting call, these girls can be

    6. The more prestigious the client, the less you get paid. The glam jobs, like Vogue, can pay far less than commercial clients, like J.C. Penney.

    7. Fashion models are WAY skinner and taller than three decades ago. Marilyn says it all:

    8. The fashion industry projects an ideal of beauty that just doesn't match reality. While over half of Brazil's population is black or mixed race, only 28 of São Paulo 2008 Fashion Week's 1,128 models were black (that's about 2.5%). In The Real Truth About Beauty, a survey commissioned by Unilever, a global study of 3,200 women aged 18 to 64 found that only 2% of them thought of themselves as "beautiful." In one startling example, 52% of women in Japan describe themselves as overweight while only 23% actually are. Almost 60% felt that female beauty was too "narrowly defined."

    Here's the trailer for the POV episode on The International Model Supply Chain. Just a couple minutes of this, and you'll see why the fashion industry needs to clean up its act.



Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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