The type of woman’s physique that is popular in the media varies over time—recall the way healthy, toned ‘90s supermodels like Cindy Crawford gave way to the “heroin chic” of emaciated Kate Moss—but in the last decade, the demand for a hyper-emaciated frame has reached a fever pitch. High-end fashion models, plagued by the constant fear of being called too fat for a job, throw themselves into starvation mode, some to the point of death: Ana Carolina Reston, Isabell Caro, sisters Luisel and Eliana Ramos. And it’s not just fashion models—the end of the aughties brought weight-obsessed stylist Rachel Zoe’s anorexic clients into vogue, including Nicole Ritchie and Mary Kate Olsen.
And yet even after high-profile deaths, anorexia runs rampant, encouraged by a media that seems to despise women’s flesh, and we're also seeing an overgrowth of pro-anorexia (pro-ana) Web sites and Tumblrs encouraging young users with thinspo—”thinspiration”—images. As though we should waste away into simply not being.
But even those women who aren’t pressured into this cultural ideal of rail-thinness are roundly criticized by the media, which on slow news days apparently decides to erupt in attacks on women who aren’t trying to fit into the tiny-frame paradigm. Gossip magazines operate in extremes, and tend to flog the women responsible for selling their titles.