Though EVERYONE knows that models are very skinny and that this is bad for the self-esteem and health of women, I was just shocked at how deathly thin the models were at the most recent Paris Fashion Week.

Ashley Mears has a really excellent and sophisticated article in the journal Ethnography, based on her experiences as a model, called Discipline of the Catwalk.  She describes how models are subject to (from the abstract) “…a disciplining labor process in which female bodily capital is transformed into a cultural commodity.” More, because market demand is based on constantly changing fashions in women’s “looks,” women have little to no control over their own value in the market.  Mears writes:

This labor process typifies the politics of gender, in which women exercise power over themselves insofar as they internalize and pursue the glamour of their regime.

Given that some things about our bodies are simply not under our control (e.g., height, skin and eye color, etc), thinness may be appealing as it is one thing that models can control.  And, apparently, being very, very skinny is still very, very in.

These women are modeling Lindsey Lohan’s fashion line only incidentally.  It’s just the particular post I happened to see over at Jezebel.

See also a previous post on how celebrity superstar women have been getting skinnier over time.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.