Addiction Issues and Other Plagues of the Fashion Industry

fashion industry, diet pills

The runways and glossy fashion magazine pages are just one side of the fashion industry coin. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot going on behind the scenes, and it is nowhere as wholesome and cheerful as on the cover pages. The people in the fashion industry face a great deal of issues, different types of addiction being only one of them. Today, we are diving into the deep end, and not a pretty one at that, and uncovering the ugly side of the fashion industry, the problems, addictions, and hopefully steps that can be taken to solve them.

Keep it under the rug

It’s almost a public secret that models (not all, but many) frequently use diet pills in order to stay fit and good forbid, not gain a pound during such taxing gigs as the Fashion Week. The worst part of it all is that they are encouraged to take these pills, whether by designers or someone else behind the scenes. Still, this is all kept under the rug, because in fashion everything has to look pretty, so all the ugliness is just shoved in a corner, never to be found.

diet pills, fashion industry, addiction

It’s everywhere

Back in 2005, George Cortina, a veteran stylist said in an interview with the New York Times that “if you don’t see it everywhere in fashion, you’re wearing a blindfold”. The article exposed much more such as the fact that there are even photographers who draw inspiration from a high-quality pot rolled into fat spliffs. Models are infamous for using cocaine backstage, and when they want to ask for it, there is even a secret code phrase “do I smell Chanel?”. Designers aren’t immune to drugs as well, and some of the names mentioned are Donatella Versace, who, almost 13 years ago sought rehabilitation, which is commendable in a way. Other names include Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, so the article is an expose on drug abuse at its very finest, or shall we say, ugliest? Now, there are numerous different ways of dealing with such addictions. There are now professionals who deal with such topics as understanding genetics and addiction, and who have found actual genetic treatments for different drug addictions. The only thing we need now is willingness, as no one can be treated unless they acknowledge the problem and seek help.

Did the fashion industry ever really move away from ‘Heroin Chic’?

This is a question posed by Image magazine, and it is one we are interested in answering ourselves. The article points out numerous examples of designers and famous fashionistas and socialites poking fun at drug addiction, but we don’t really see where the fun is. Luckily, things seem to be changing in the recent years, as even the world-famous Moschino was forced to “pull its AW16 collection – which included clothes and handbags that look like prescription pill bottles”, simply because they glorified prescription drug abuse. This isn’t the only brand who has been under the public’s watchful eye, as even collections by such designers as Raf Simons (2018 ‘Youth in Motion’), were scrutinized for their underlying glorification of drugs.

Last, but certainly not least on the list

Indulging in huge amounts of alcohol at after parties is another issue, but one that people don’t pay that much attention to, as what is a party without some bubbly? While this represents yet another large issue, perhaps the even more concerning and burning ones are bulimia and anorexia. Aside from the diet pills, models have been known to use the bathroom stalls to purge, or starve themselves. However, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. In 2012, Sara Ziff founded the Model Alliance, and has become a fierce advocate for those she deems under-represented. Along with researchers from Harvard University, she conducted a study on a number of models, and the findings are staggering. Namely, the study found that, while the required thinness is nothing new, models have disclosed that they are infrequently asked to put their health at risk in order to look good for magazine pages and runways. They are often forced to undergo weight controls, and are forced to lose even more weight, despite having a BMI that already puts them in the unhealthy category. There is a regulatory body, which now bans the usage of models whose BMI is under what is considered normal, but as Ziff points out, there is still a long way to go.

Given the fact that they start off very young, without someone responsible and conscientious to guide them, models could be swallowed by the world of cocaine, alcohol, bulimia, anorexia and even requirements for plastic surgery. The industry needs to be a better watchdog, as opposed to being a facilitator, and we certainly do hope that things will change in the industry. If the change doesn’t come from within, we can always rely on such responsible individuals as Ziff and hope there will be more of such individuals in the future.

Mia Taylor is a fashion and beauty enthusiast from Sydney and writer for She loves writing about her life experiences. Travelling and enjoying other cultures and their food with her husband is a big part of her life. She is always on the lookout for new trends in fashion and beauty, and considers herself an expert when it comes to lifestyle tips.
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