Then and Now: Model Figures Gets Smaller and Skinnier


    By Ashley Evanson

    Editor?s note: The three models quoted in this story are grandmothers of the three reporters who reported in the two-day series of articles. Joann Waddell is grandmother of Lauren Waddell. Diana Drake is the grandmother of Eva Armendariz, and Janice Johnson is the grandmother of Ashley Johnson.

    Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn, Kate Moss – there”s something about those stick-thin frames that clothes look fabulous on. It”s an image people recognize for successful modeling: you must be pencil-thin.

    This body-type expectation can be unrealistic and almost impossible for the average woman to reach; however, eating disorder and diet statistics show that women are continually concerned with meeting these expectations.

    Whether they”re aspiring to become America”s next top model, or they”re simply reading the latest issue of Vogue, women are pressured to have the “ideal body” portrayed by the media and modeling industry.

    The industry wasn”t always so brutal. Diana Drake from Salt Lake City was a model in the 1930s and ”40s, a wartime beauty. Drake described the modeling industry as a place where ideal beauty was more about fashion than body type.

    “The world was more of a glamorous place,” she said. She remembered women wearing fancy hairdos, outrageous-looking clothes and beautiful furs. As for makeup, more was marvelous. The ability to “put on a pretty face” was more important than putting on size 00 pants.

    “You never heard of anorexia or being thin,” she said. “Today it”s a little bit more unreal, unreal because the girls are so tall and thin. In the olden days, they seemed to be more natural and not so artificial.”

    Joann Waddell, from Carlsbad, Calif., began her worldwide modeling career in 1955. She admitted that she never had to diet or work out during her career. Looking at the industry today, she sees a huge difference from what it used to be.

    “[Models are] trying to be skinnier than the next one,” Waddell said. “Drugs are a big thing now, which weren”t when I was working.”

    Last week CBS News aired a story on a dangerous new weight-loss technique that”s allegedly popular with models and actresses. It”s called Clenbuterol, a drug used to treat asthma in horses. One of “Clen”s” side effects makes users drop weight fast, according to the CBS Web site.

    Clenbuterol has been proven to cause degeneration in muscle and the cardiovascular system. According to the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service Web site, the unlawful use of Clenbuterol can cause illness or even death. Even though there are serious risks, many people are still willing to sacrifice safety for waist size.

    Today drugs and eating disorders go hand-in-hand with the word “modeling.” A Paris model recently died from anorexia. Models and actresses feel pressured to look thin. That in turn puts pressure on society to keep up by slimming down.

    “Every time I see them [models], I wish I could be a little bit skinnier, a little bit taller,” said Abby Feulner, a freshman from Sandy studying elementary education.

    Women and young girls who read fashion magazines are bombarded with photographs of unnaturally thin women, women they think they are supposed to look like.

    “I feel like they [magazines] are telling girls, in a way, that they”re just not good enough,” Feulner said. “Ask any girl who”s anorexic and they read all those magazines.”

    Janice Johnson from Sun Valley, Idaho, modeled in the 1960s and ”70s, and is disappointed with how the modeling industry has changed for what she thinks is the worse.

    “It”s turned into an epidemic of little girls trying to starve themselves,” Johnson said. “They lose the reality of how they really look. They expect unnatural things of themselves, and it”s a pitiful shame.”

    Johnson herself has undergone a breast augmentation, a facelift, and just last month, something she called a “smile lift.”

    “You have to keep up with the times,” she said.

    Johnson did acknowledge, however, the modeling industry and media as a whole have recently taken steps toward changing the image of beauty to a more realistic one.

    “I think we”ve turned a corner,” she said. “Women pretty much decide what their image should be at their age.”

    Aaron Yun, agency director of Creative Talent Modeling Agency in Salt Lake City, agreed that the industry is changing.

    “Being anorexic is not what the industry is looking for, and it”s not a health style that they [models] should pursue,” Yun said.

    Today a lot of agencies won”t hire women who don”t meet a new healthy size requirement. Five models in Madrid, Spain, were recently banned from the runway for not having a body mass index (BMI) of 18, a healthy weight to height ratio.

    Yun said it”s not uncommon for high-profile models in New York and Los Angeles to have eating disorders; however, he said agencies tell models, “Either they start eating healthy and gaining weight, or they just won”t get work.”

    The wheel is in motion, and although it”s slow, the media is looking toward finding beauty in the average woman.

    Yun said, “I know back in the day, that”s what they were looking for [the anorexic look], but things are changing, which is good.”

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