Designer: Stop Passing Buck On Thin Models

(CBS) A top designer is challenging an industry powerhouse and others to stop passing the buck on, and join forces against, the prevalence of super-thin models on runways.

That prevalence is blamed by many experts for starting and perpetuating the concept that the skinnier a young girl or woman is, the more attractive she is.

In what many observers see as a surprising move, Vogue's editor in chief, Anna Wintour, writes in the magazine's April issue about the models at New York's recent fall fashion shows that, "Overall, they were pale and thin and entirely lacking in the joyfulness and charm that once defined the supermodels. This is, of course, not their fault: Designers now near-uniformly favor a non-vivacious, homogenous ideal."

But on The Early Show Thursday, "designer to the stars" and author of "The Science of Sexy," Bradley Bayou, whose daughter is battling the eating disorder bulemia, said the statement caught him by surprise "because the editors of the magazines are partly to blame. I think what she's doing is shifting the blame to the designers. ... She's in the business. She knows what the designers are doing. It's not like, 'Oh, gee, what a surprise, the models are skinny.' That's kind of surprising to me."

So, Bayou issued a challenge to Wintour to "quit passing the blame. If everybody takes responsibility and everybody works together, we can change it. In other words, the designers and the editors and the modeling agents and the models' parents and everybody gets together and decides, 'This is not a healthy thing. We must change it.' Then, hopefully, we can."

Bayou noted to co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez that Wintour "is the final word in our business. She has a lot of power. That's why it's surprising, because I think a lot of this came out of Anna Wintour and all the other fashion editors to make this skinny look and sort of keep the heroin-chic look alive, and it's even gotten worse.

"So, I think that she's to blame. Quit passing the blame. This whole thing has become a blame-game, so nothing gets done.

"At least she's taking a stand, and I'm happy. Let's hope she really sticks to it and let's hope she supports the designers if they do the same thing."

Being sexy, says Bayou, "has nothing to do with being emaciated. Sexy has to do with balancing your body. It's all in my book, how to balance your body to look sexier. That's really what it's about.

"The average size of a woman in this country is size 14, she's 5'5" and weighs about 160 pounds."

But, he says, the average size of the models on catwalks is "two/zero. If you think about it, it's 80 percent less than the average in this country. They're that much skinnier. That's a lot. I mean, that really does not represent this country at all. So it will change."

Bayou recently spoke about thin models at a panel co-sponsored by Harvard Medical School.

"I want healthier models on the runway, really, and that's really what it's about. And I think that the opportunity to speak at Harvard allowed me to talk about my own industry and my own organization, the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), and the lack of attention we're really giving this issue, which is incredibly serious. Obviously it's had an effect on me, and an effect on millions and millions, at least eight-to-ten-million women in this country with eating disorders. That's a lot of people."

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