Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The hottest fashion

Tumult is parading on the fashion catwalk.

According to Reuters, the world's first ban on overly thin models at a top-level fashion show has been announced in Madrid and is causing no small amount of concern within that industry. Underweight models (those with a body mass index - BMI - of under 18) will not be allowed to walk the runway. The reason cited by organizers is they "want to project an image of beauty and health, rather than waif-like or heroin chic." They believe (and they are most likely accurate) that young girls and women were trying to copy their rail-thin looks and were therefore developing eating disorders. (For comparison, the average American woman is 5' 4" and weighs 140, a BMI of 24, which is considered in the normal range of 18-25. The average American model is 5' 11" and weighs 117 pounds, a BMI of 16.)

I am torn by the decision in Spain.

It is not because I follow the latest designer news nor the ups and downs of Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, or Calvin Klein. Although I find self-image, public health, and the plague of excess weight to be of utmost importance, I also believe personal choice is essential.

Every waking moment of each day, we make choices, which have repercussions; the results become our lives. Without the ability to make such decisions, our learning curve is thwarted and future decisions are poorer, making it more difficult to achieve our potential. Wisdom comes of evaluating our choices.

Conversely, until we possess that good judgment, it is society's moral imperative to protect the innocent from predators who view them as fodder for personal gain.

It is a conundrum. Choice becomes wisdom, which fosters better choices. Yet until we possess such understanding, others must direct our choices, slowing the expansion of wisdom.

More important however is not the dimensions of the model as much as the message of the event. I understand the need to be desirous of a contemporary and fresh appearance (although it matters less as I age). However, imagine a routine where high profile models were judged not by the hang of their outfits as much as the completeness of their character and the fulfilling of their potential.

Picture a catwalk adorned with women - and men - of every age, shape, and size. Each struts proudly a sense of purpose, social consciousness, creativity, knowledge, and - of course - health. Others are drawn to these events by the desire to better themselves and those around them. The ultimate "super model" becomes self-actualization - a fashion that fits beautifully on any body.

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