Models encourage teens to reject skinny, embrace healthy body image.


by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 Healthlink

Posted on February 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

They put on back-to-back high energy assemblies at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish. One for the girls, the second for the boys, complete with music and models, professions that can be a teen's dream.

"You'd just really love for someone to walk up to you and go, "You're so beautiful. You know, I saw you, and have you ever thought about modeling?" Katie Halchishick told her audience of teens at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish.

But Halchischick, who has modeled since her teens, cautioned students. The profession, though lucrative, is often costly to self esteem.

"They're the most insecure women I've ever met because they get torn to pieces publicly at photo shoots. "She's fat," she recalled the insults she has heard through the years.
Still teen girls and guys often judge themselves against ads, and find they don't measure up.

"Middle school was really tough for me. I didn't feel like I fit in. I was not skinny and I thought that I had to be," recalled high school senior Hannah Pankratz.

"Guys try to weigh more, over 170 or 180. And girls always try to lose weight," said junior Austin Tippett.

The models call their tour the Perfectly Unperfected Program. They wanted students to know that body images pushed by the fashion industry don't reflect real life. 

"Every girl up here is considered plus size by the industry, including myself," said Halchishick, standing alongside the group of normal weight models.

She said models who don't fit weight extremes find themselves out of work.

"The anorexic look is the look. And they'll tell you that as models. And you say, "And that's being set by who?" she questioned.

She pointed out that Blacks and Asians are scarce in ads.

"It's 2012. This is a huge melting pot. There needs to be more variety of ethnicities and variety of shapes and sizes," she said.

It's the reason she co-founded an agency with healthy weight models. They include world class surfer, Bo Stanley who has a tough time being taken seriously by a sponsor.

"They still say, "You're really pretty. But we're not using you in ads. You're too fat," Stanley told the students.

The models challenged the teens to recognize their own power as a market.

"You're dollar signs. They don't care about your feelings. They don't care about if you're hurting yourself. All they care about is how you're going to spend your money," Halchishick told the students.

Feedback from students was positive.

"That was a great message. I loved it!" said Shelby Stromerson.

"I really liked what they did today because it shows a lot of girls go through it," said Hannah Pankratz.

The models hope to take their Perfectly Unperfected Program tour next to college campuses.