Germany's top fashion magazine bans models over "anorexia"

Declaring that "Today's models weigh around 23% less than normal women," and "The whole model industry is anorexic," Germany's top women's magazine, Brigitte has announced that it will no longer work with professional models, because they have to devote substantial resources to photoshopping added weight to them in order to make them resemble their readers.

Lebert said the magazine would call on German women to put themselves forward as models for fashion and makeup articles.

"We're looking for women who have their own identity, whether it be the 18-year-old A-level student, the company chairwoman, the musician, or the footballer," he said, adding that he wanted a mix between prominent and completely unknown women and would look out for politicians and actresses interested in modelling.

Brigitte, Germany's most popular women's mag, bans professional models (via Wonderland)


  1. Delightful link with the Ralph Lauren story. Adding weight to images – that’s also delightful, what a funny concept!

    Surely, not too long until images of humans are simply replaced by artificially created images?! Who’s to say that some of these famous models aren’t already exactly that!?

  2. @Walter- It’s a tricky point even now, wouldn’t you say? If the entire image of the model has been airbrushed such that very little, if any, is seen…is it a photograph or a painting?

    Anyhow, good on the magazine– there’s something a bit painful about watching the average model. Too many bones sticking out.

  3. Delightful? Or a cynical ploy to get some good press and credibility? Ten to one says the amateur models will still embody some utterly unrealistic ideal of beauty. But hey, at least they’ll be cheaper and everyone can applaud this brave, iconoclastic move.

  4. ..and sadly, this image which gets projected to women (and the muscle bound one projected to men) only sets impossible standard to which to compare yourself, feeding low self esteem.
    The weird thing is that most guys I know don’t find supermodels attractive, and most women I know don’t find the supposed hunks attractive.

    What went wrong?

  5. @arikol- Because it’s not a competition for mates, it’s a competition against other members of one’s own gender. Women know perfectly well that attracting a man doesn’t require much primping. Men are fairly sure that women will settle for less than chiseled beef.
    But raise the question of who has the (bigger, smaller) body part, and it’s all intra-gender rivalry.

  6. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves limiting the amount of food a person eats. It results in starvation and an inability to stay at the minimum body weight considered healthy for the person’s age and height, but a model should ban or or not …thinking over it.

  7. a GIANT shout out to Brigitte. now if only all the other ‘fashion’,’glamor’ and ‘women’s’ magazines would follow suit.

    it’s fine to be thin if that is your body type. it is NOT fine to starve yourself because you think society will accept you more that way. it’s NOT fine to be uncomfortable with your body. it’s my belief most women in the united states have eating disorders (not just under eating. i’m talking all types) and most are embarrassed by their bodies.

    we are who we are. we can’t be comfortable with someone else in our lives if we ain’t comfy with our own dang selves

  8. The woman on this cover is, of course, a model. Brigitte will start with the “No Models” campaign next year in january.
    As much as I like the idea, and I like the idea a lot, I have to say that Brigitte is completely irrelevant fashion-wise. It’s no “Vogue”.
    Brigitte is your classical womens magazine, featuring the newest diet (usually in January, after Christmas), some political correct articles about women in a country far away involved in some social projects, stuff to cook and bake, and so on. The fashion pages have never really featured many of the really famous thin models, plus: Brigitte fashion is totally boring, preppy and very “Hausfrau”, which probably just means they know their readership really well and I’m not it.
    If I didn’t dislike the style of clothes so much, I might even apply as a model :)

  9. “Today’s models weigh around 23% less than normal women”

    Only 23%?

    I’m constantly confused by people talking on this issue comparing models to average people. Obviously models are different from average people – they’re what the average person* aspires to be.

    * or the industry’s best approximation: the average consumer of brand in question as seen by brand’s marketing manager.

    1. Perhaps a better way of stating this statistic is not in terms of pounds, but in terms of what percentile they are on a normalized curve of weight/height distribution.

  10. This just sounds like bullshit PR move, done to bring the adoration of those like Rose Bush above.

    Why can’t they just use heftier professional models? They must exist. How can working with amatures to avoid time spent ‘adding weight with photoshop’ balance out… well, working with amatures?

    Surely professional models are more than just lookers: they know how to pose, how a shoot works, how to do ‘cold steel’ etc.

  11. Remember the entire system of commercial media projection is designed to sell dog food, cat food, creams, potions, lotions and every colour of crap under the sun.

    The trick is to convince us all, through the constant onslaught of programming from babyhood, that we’re not quite good enough, and this expensive goo at $350 a pot will turn us into the thing we see.

  12. “Today’s models weigh around 23% less than normal women”

    Considering how obese everyone is these days, I’m also surprised at that low percentage.

    Maybe we need more “thinsperation” these days, not less.
    I look at the other 10-year-olds in my kids class and I get depressed.

    1. Thinsperation, as you call it, can’t work this way. Heavyset people would starve to death before they could look as thin as models do. They know it, too, so they don’t try. Better the ladies’ gym and Weight Watchers type ads that show dangerously obese people getting to ‘average’ weight, talking about how much better they feel: That’s inspirational!

  13. Felix/Jack – normal, not average. What is the average weight of women who are not under- or overweight? Models also tend to be taller than average so that’s going to skew things too.

    1. Is Brigitte indulging in hypocrisy by criticising models for presenting an unattainable ideal for women, and then comparing them to another ideal for women? Which may also be unattainable for many women.

      It seems dumb to me to simultaneously say models are unhealthy because they’re too thin compared their medically ideal weight, but also that they’re unfair role models for ‘average’ women – who are on average unhealthily fat. Do Brigette want their models to reflect medical perfection or average women?

  14. felix, i did not exhibit any form of adoration for brigitte. i gave them a simple shout out.

    what i WAS saying is; american women have low self esteem when it comes to their bodies. glossies and tv and movies and ads and our culture in general don’t help.

    1. Alright, Rose, forgive me for not using the strict definition of a ‘shout out’ that you do.

      We know gloosy magazines don’t help women’s self esteem. But is Brigette helping either?

      Personally I’d be pretty upset if I was a ‘normal’ sized German model, and I’ve had a hard time being ‘too fat’ for the industry but has stuck in there nonetheless, and now Brigette want normal sized women but won’t use me because my colleagues are too skinny!

  15. But think of the poor Supermodels! Where will they get the large sums of money to buy that wonderful cocaine that keeps them so beautifully GAUNT??

    Nobody thinks of the supermodels.

  16. This can only be changed by economic action. Boycott the labels, and the TV shows/sponsors (America’s Top Model, etc) that perpetuate this crap. Or start shooting people in the head.

  17. Anorexic? You should see the amount of food my cousin puts down at our family gatherings, and then goes off for fashion week or a runway show the following days. While there are definitely some girls who abstain from eating to maintain a look or physic, the bulk percentage of models are made up from teenage girls! Anyone remember being a teenager? The most common question asked after eating was, “Where do you put all that food?! Your legs?!”

  18. @Baug – Your cousin may well be suffering from bulima as well. The answer to “where do you put all that food” is sadly, all too often, right back up their throats and into the toilet.

  19. 1) Models are for primarily for showing off clothing, which drapes better on standard sizes with few curves. Sucks, but that’s just a basic logistical concern. How many pairs of jeans should be sent to a photo shoot? If jeans make the model’s “ass look fat” then the jeans get blamed. There’s a reason why swimsuit and runway models almost always look different (with some world-famous exceptions). In any case, models are literally “tools,” not to be confused with normal people.

    2) Beauty is usually seen in superlatives… smoothest, roundest, biggest, brightest, etc. The Z-Machine, LHC, non-cloudy ice spheres with no seam… these are “inaccessible” but admired by BB reading makers of things. If models had “accessible” levels of weight, height, complexion, cellulite… they wouldn’t epitomize anything.

    If my mastery of electricity and ice formation were essential to my self-worth, I’d be pretty annoyed at BB… not that I plan to make a tesla coil, but I resent the pressure that BB puts on me to become a “maker.” I hate Photoshopped pictures of the Z-Machine because it makes tesla-coils seem even less adequate, and I prefer to think that all tesla coils are beautiful.

  20. It’s great that Brigitte will use the girls and women next door as models as of January but one thing needs to be remembered: sales of women’s magazines have been declining dramatically over the last decade because the market has changed. While women have jobs and real lives magazines like Brigitte still only have three issues: Man, Housework, Horoscope.

    I wonder what Don Draper or even better Peggy Olson would say about this…

    1. You forgot: cooking, decorating and handbags.

      There are a lot of US women’s magazines that haven’t fundamentally changed their content in 25-30 years. It’s no wonder readership is down. The last time I glanced at one of the more prominant ones I felt kinda patronized and somewhat alienated by the content. It was literally the latest diet craze, decorating, the latest cooking craze, more decorating, makeup, handbags, gardening, more cooking, more decorating. What the hell? As if that’s all any given woman could possibly be interested in. Personnaly, I’d be pretty happy with a craft/make/gadget/video game/fashion hybrid. Like Attack of the Show in print with a feminine bend. Does any such thing exist?

      It’s a good idea for the fashion industry to move away from the heroin addict look. It simply isn’t a healthy weight for those women. The fact that they’re all over 5’7″ makes their average weight close to dangerously low. 5’7″, 110 lbs = icky stick figure. But how far should they go? Size 10? Size 16? At some point your at the other end of an unhealthy pendulum swing.

  21. “they have to devote substantial resources to photoshopping added weight to them in order to make them resemble their readers. ”

    Well, that’s was an unexpected comment from a fashion magazine.

    Interesting point – that’s only one subset of the modelling industry. There’s actually a ton of pro models out there who aren’t remotely anorexic. They’re just not the rich household name ones.

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