Amanda Pendolino
January 28, 2013

Is It Wrong to Offer Models Discount Juice Cleanses for Fashion Week?

The Council of Fashion Designers of America has partnered with weight loss company Organic Avenue to offer discount juice cleanses for models at New York’s Fashion Week — and some critics say the move promotes disordered eating.

According to ABC News, CFDA and Organic Avenue are giving models a 50 percent discount on juices and food during 2013’s Fashion Week, which begins February 7. The juice cleanse craze is still going strong — but many medical professionals have pointed out that juice cleanses have no real health benefits. Dr. Donald Hensrud, Mayo Clinic’s chair of preventative medicine, says that “cleanse” and “detoxification” are buzzwords with no scientific evidence behind them.

“What ‘toxins’ are people getting rid of? The colon is full of bacteria,” he said, referring to healthy, necessary organisms in the body. “Nobody’s been able to tell me specifically what ‘toxins’ they are talking about.”

Organic Avenue offers food as well, but that includes a 194 calorie Dandelion-Kale Salad and a 146 calorie Cauliflower Salad. Sounds like a hearty meal, huh?

Eating disorders are already so prevalent in the modeling industry that some critics think the discount is dangerous.

“Sending a model to a juice cleanse place is like sending an alcoholic to a bar,” said Whitney Thompson, the first plus size winner of America’s Next Top Model and an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. “It’s baiting them.”

Juice cleanse aficionados claim that the strict diets make you feel “healthy,” powered by a unique sensation of euphoria.

“You become lightheaded and dizzy, and that euphoric feeling starts to come on,” explains registered dietician Marjorie Nolan Cohn. “I work with a lot of anorexics, and they feel euphoria, too.”

But as Elizabeth Preston points out in her trenchant io9 article, Enough Already with the Juice Cleanses, “Symptoms of detox may include fatigue, headaches, nausea, hives, decreased bowel movements, increased bowel movements, strangely colored bowel movements (‘Did you just drink some of our beet juice?’), dry mouth, runny nose, and canker sores. I should ignore those symptoms, drink herbal tea, and be reassured that I’ll soon be skinnier. Sorry, healthier.”

Let’s stop pretending that juice cleanses are about health; your body already knows how to remove toxins on its own. You’re doing this to be skinny. Dangerously skinny.

Models are already under enough pressure to be dangerously thin — let’s not encourage eating disorders.