A picture of model Codie Young on Topshop's homepage last week sparked a backlash from some eating-disorder support groups who accused the retailer of portraying an unhealthy girl. Last night, Topshop replaced the image with one that made Young look less exaggeratedly thin, admitting that the original photo "may accentuate Codie's proportions making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body."
Naturally, the Daily Mail had a field day with all this and interviewed a bunch of the people who had complained about the image.
Karen Easthall, who runs an anorexia support group in Norfolk, said: "This is absolutely outrageous in 2011, seeing models this thin. She clearly looks like a size zero. A disturbing picture of a stick-thin model can cause problems with young girls, who may try to copy them. Topshop should know better."
Ms Easthall's daughter Hollie, 16, spent four months in hospital after suffering with anorexia. She has since began to recover but Ms Easthall believes that seeing more pictures of thin models could risk her having a "relapse".
Adds anorexia researcher Helen Davies:
For girls to see pictures of models who are this thin suggests that it's okay to be like that but it's clearly not ... For girls who see these kind of images it can be very damaging.
Topshop defended Young, saying that she is a U.K. size 8 and that they're "confident that Codie is a healthy young woman." Meanwhile, Codie defended herself on her own blog:
This is very hurtful to me as I am naturally skinny; and anyone who knows me would know that I have been naturally skinny my entire life as my dad is 6'5 tall and skinny an my mum is also skinny, not to mention that my entire family on my dads side are all tall and skinny like me!
For someone like Ms Davies to say its not okay for me to be this thin ( which is how I was created) basicly says its not okay for me to be who I am!
I am very happy with my body and how I look because its apart of who I am! Throughout my entire childhood I was called anorexic and people would ask if I was bulimic. And it was really hard sometimes for me to deal with as I have always been this way ... And finally yes okay I maybe an American size 0-2 and a UK size 8 so what. There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know one says anything to them because you don't want to affend them! Just because someone eats a lot doesn't make them healthy. Just like not eating anything doesnt make you healthy. And funny enough saying I'm anorexic affends me just as being called obese affends overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!
Codie's right: People can certainly be this thin naturally, particularly when they're her age (she's 18), and it's too bad she got caught in the crossfire of what was clearly just a case of terribly sloppy Photoshopping. It appears that Topshop replaced the photo not necessarily because they thought it reflected an unhealthy ideal, but because it was so badly distorted and artificial looking. Codie is of course very thin, but no thinner than the average model.