Models Eat Up—Anorexia Is Off The Shelf

Following the fashion industry’s inner turmoil over the use of wafer-thin models, a major packaged goods company is now calling for heftier models in its advertising.
According to The Wall Street Journal (paid sub. req.), Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer-products company is joining the global fight against eating disorders.

“Unilever has adopted a new global guideline that will require that all its future marketing communications should not use models or actors that are either excessively slim or promote ‘unhealthy’ slimness,” said Ralph Kugler, president of Unilever’s home and personal-care division.
Unilever, which makes Dove soap, Lipton teas and Skippy peanut butter, said it won’t impose strict criteria for models and actors, but all brand directors and agencies would be expected to use a Body Mass Index of between 18.5 and 25 as a guideline for models and actors.
BMI is a measure expressed as a ratio of weight to height. The World Health Organization considers anyone with a BMI below 18.5 underweight.

John Paul Gautier weighed in on the debate last fall by sending a size 20 model down the runway.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.