Every once in a while, it's in the news and it is shocking: Very young women are suffering from eating disorders that lead them, sometimes, to extreme health risks and even to death. And it's not only the case with models, or people related to the fashion business, but it affects millions of women around the globe, because our culture validates and promotes a very particular version of beauty.
You have to be very skinny, very young, and even have an androgynous look, to be in fashion shows or editorial pages in magazines. In fact, legends of beauty and glamour, like Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren, might be now considered "overweight" by certain fashion designers. Even though the responsibility about this issue is shared by different people, the media sector has a relevant share of it in many ways. To start with, by hiring very young and skinny models, showing them as the supreme icons of beauty and sexiness, women feel obliged to follow certain physical rules to be valued or accepted.
That is why women from all ages deprive themselves from eating in order to de "accepted." Curves and wrinkles, in this standard, are not welcomed, and success is defined by the absence of traces of age and individuality.
As a journalist and editor, I feel specially shocked by this situation and decided to take action. In Ya Magazine -- the women's magazine of El Mercurio, the main newspaper in Chile -- after a long research, we created and launched a campaign for a healthy image for women. Inspired by laws and self regulatory practices from New York, Israel, France, and Italy, we made a commitment that we hope will encourage reflection and change, not only in our country, but also beyond our region.
Starting from January 2014, in our editorial pages, we will not hire models below 18-years-old, or models who have a BMI of less than 18.5. Also, we will not use Photoshop or digital procedures to change the real images of women.
So far, this initiative has been very well received by the Chilean comunity. By this small step, we hope to help to make a better world, especially for future generations of women who deserve to live in a society where they should be valued by their talents, hard work, and uniqueness, and not by their physical image. Hopefully, our initiative will inspire other magazines to join us.