Will Banning Thin Models In France Create A Healthier Fashion World?

30/05/2017 15:26

The new anti-thin law ‎is now being enforced on French couturiers. Doctors have to provide certificates that prove models are a certain BMI before they walk up and down their runway. Many are dangerously thin, some anorexic. Apocryphal stories of diets of cotton wool and water are rife. If you read the latest book by Victoria Dauxerre, 'Never Thin Enough', it is clear that the fashion world are prepared to make young girls sick in the name of their designs. Models aren't humans with needs, they are a commodity, that can be adapted, moulded to suit their artistic needs.

In fact many say the industry will conspire against the new law, by using doctors who are prepared to turn a blind eye. Or that the girls will overload with water or binge eat for their weigh in. In other countries there is a scale backstage which all have to step on. This is harder to cheat but must be extremely traumatic for a young girl, often under 18.

Also is weight a true marker of healthiness? ‎Proving a model is above the limit doesn't pick up any eating issues or physical ailments. Many have stopped their period, prone to viruses and later can develop issues such as infertility, bad teeth and even bone deficiency. Most importantly these check ups don't pick up unhealthy thinking or behaviours. Nor do they offer a solution for them. A resident psychologist would be far more useful for them.

So clearly this law won't protect the model necessarily but will it have a greater impact on the broader public - will it curb ‎diseases such as anorexia and address more generally low self-esteem in teens?

The industry cynical response is that a magazine ad or a poster super skinny girl isn't enough to trigger an eating disorder. ‎What they're failing to recognise is that they set the tone for the high street. It is because of them mannequins in shop windows are now 8 instead of a normal 12. They influence online brands like Missguided to use a model in their latest ad whose thigh bones are protruding.

And they're right - one ad alone won't make you go off the rails if you're confident and happy. ‎But with three quarters of teen girls unhappy with how they look it's a dangerous assumption. Especially when they aren't taught at school or at home to interpret these images correctly - often photo-shopped and unrepresentative of reality. It's a slippery slope, one bad ad here, an insta there, fat chat at school and before you know it a diet begins. A mode of living that obsesses about perfect appearance.

And for the those that are fragile, maybe borderline anorexic, these images are extremely destructive.‎ An extremely underweight model normalises the disease, it makes them think it's ok to look like that. Worse still they want to beat that person's skinniness and so their disorder spirals further.

‎We need to do everything we can. A simple law won't make teens confident overnight. More needs to happen - confidence as part of school curriculum, enforced alerts on ads if they have been edited amongst others. But it is a step in the right direction and brands such as Saint Laurent who have promoted the 'heroin chic' look with skeletal models will be the first to have to tow the line.

For if the government doesn't protect these girls, some as young as 13, the fashion industry certainly won't. They haven't for years. They'd rather clothes horses than healthy human beings.

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