Thursday, November 16, 2006

Brazilian Fashion Model Dies of Anorexia

Ultra-skinny models are in the news again. This time, a Brazilian model, Ana Carolina Reston--that's NOT her in the pictures--tragically died on November 14 from a generalized infection caused by anorexia. Her passing has renewed the controversy surrounding underweight models.

You might remember when, just this past September, a Madrid, Spain, fashion show banned models whose body-mass-index (BMI) was below 18. Ms. Reston’s BMI was 13.5 when she passed away. The World Health Organization considers anyone with a BMI below 18.5 underweight. A BMI below 17.5 is considered criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. A BMI nearing 15 is often used as an indicator of starvation... think concentration camp victims.

Reston's mother, Miriam Reston, has been speaking to the press, pleading with mothers world-wide to encouage their children to avoid risking their lives through unhealthy eating practices for the sake of the fame, money, and celebrity that represents the carrot on the end of the stick for young women hoping to become successful fashion models.

I don't get it. I've never quite understood why fashion designers pursue seriously underweight models to showcase their wares. Sure, I understand that clothes often look better on lean people but if these designers take a close look at their customers, who's that skinny amongst them? Are fashion's consumers that dumb they can't see the difference between what a dress draped on a seriously underweight model is going to look like versus what it's going to look like draped on their own (mostly not underweight) bodies?

Thankfully, we don't have this problem with glamour models. We don't insist that they are tall and skinny. We like a bit of meat on our glamour girls. That's not to say being "in shape" isn't a requirement for most glam chicks, but being underweight--make that emaciated--ain't what pretty girl shooters are looking for.

The image at the top is Aaralyn. I shot her yesterday for a client. MUA was Chloey. As usual, I captured Aaralyn with my Canon 5D w/85mm f/1.8 prime. The first image was captured at ISO 100, f/6.3 @ 125th. For lighting, I used a 5' Photoflex Octodome for my mainlight. I positioned a Chimera Medium Strip camera-right, about 45-degrees behind the model. I also used a bare-bulb monolight with a 30-degree grid attached to the front for an accent light, camera-left, also about 45-degrees behind Aaralyn. After getting all the requisite "pretty girl on a seamless" shots my client needs for a DVD's cover artwork, I had some fun shooting Aaralyn on a trashy, alley set. I decided to use just the bare-bulb with the grid for lighting this series. I wanted to give these images a stark, higher-contrast look.

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