‘Too thin is not attractive’

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
March 02, 2011, 12:40 AM GMT+0

Most Brits do not find very thin catwalk models attractive and would support the use of so-called ‘plus-size’ models in fashion shows, although younger people are less in support and are more likely to find extremely thin (‘size zero’) models attractive, our poll has shown. A majority of Brits would also support a ban on very thin models appearing on the catwalk.

  • 89% of Brits say that they ‘do not’ find very thin fashion models attractive
  • Just 5% say that they do
  • 81% feel that designers should use more ‘plus size’ models in catwalk shows
  • 10% say that they shouldn’t
  • 63% would support a ban on very thin models
  • 23% would oppose a ban

Younger people are less likely to object to very thin models, however, more likely than their older counterparts to find them attractive, and are less in favour of any ban on their appearances on the catwalk.

  • 9% of 18-24 year olds find very thin models attractive compared to 3% of those over 60
  • Interestingly, a significant minority (14%) of young people say they ‘aren’t sure’ whether they find them attractive compared to just 2% of the over 60s
  • Just 53% of 18-24 year olds would support a ban on very thin models, whereas 70% of those over 60s would
  • And while 85% of the elder group feel that more designers should use ‘plus size’ models in catwalk shows, just 63% of the younger group agree

‘One size on the catwalk is regrettable’

The results come as the issue of extremely thin models has come under the spotlight again recently as last week’s London Fashion Week saw some very skinny girls on the catwalk in a number of shows, most notably that of designer Erdem. Attended by Samantha Cameron, the show featured some very slender models, raising some eyebrows among commentators, as well as alerting several eating disorder charities, some of which are concerned about the effect that images of such thin women may have on younger people. In 2006, the issue received so much attention that Madrid banned models with a body mass index of less than 18 ('underweight') from appearing on its catwalks.

Despite many industry leaders denying that fashion is to blame for anorexia and other eating disorders, chief executive of eating disorder charity Beat Susan Ringwood told the Daily Mail, ‘There’s a backwards step here. Young people are especially interested in fashion and want to take the lead it gives. If we’re back to the old days of seeing one size on the catwalk, it is regrettable’, she said.

See the survey details and full results here (from our most recent Sunday Times poll)