News that runway waistlines are shrinking even more has some worried about the message young girls are getting from the fashion industry.
An editorial in this month's PLUS Model magazine pointed out that most runway models meet the body mass index criteria for anorexia, weighing 23 percent less than the average woman.
A decade ago, plus-size models averaged between size 12 and size 18, but the majority of plus-size models now are between size 6 and size 14, the magazine said, based on its own research.
"It's sad that a size 6 is plus-size," said Madison Hanulak, a fashion student at the Art Institute of Indianapolis, who is a size 6. "I'm comfortable with myself and my size and someone telling me that's plus-size makes no difference to me."
"I'm actually a size 8 or 10. It just depends on the brand," said classmate Mariah Jackson. "I don't personally consider myself plus-size."
While some may be able to shrug off the news, experts are concerned that labeling size-6 women as plus-size or overweight may send a dangerous message to young girls.
"All girls internalize these media messages, regardless of where they live. The average person is exposed to 400 to 600 commercials a day," said Pat Wachtel, the CEO of Girls Inc., a nonprofit group that helps girls build self esteem. "We have little girls who are starving themselves to death, that are anorexic and bulimic."
Women railed against the new trend on the RTV6 Facebook page.
"I'm disgusted. What kind of an example is this setting for younger girls who already have image problems?!" Jackie Rowley wrote.
"Stop buying the crap those models are modeling and maybe society will take notice," Lisa Whitaker Dillow posted.
"Pathetic! If size 6 is plus size, then size 13 is obese to them," wrote Tiffany Ann Preston. "There is nothing wrong with a woman with curves."
Experts said it's up to parents and other role models to send the right message to their children, especially girls, stressing health, not looks.
Plus Model editors say women who are insulted by the new fashion industry standards should only support companies who market to them.
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