herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Banning ultra-skinny models is smart, but should we ban overweight ones too?

Meghan Trainor
Meghan Trainor

It's called the 'drip drip' effect. When messages fed to consumers over a period of time sink in and stick. The 'drip drip' effect on women is in relation to the thousands of images we see each day of emaciated, malnourished models and celebrities.

We actually start to believe that these lollipop-head scrawny celebs are normal.

But studies show that exposure to unrealistic bodies leads to body dissatisfaction and negative thoughts for the majority of women. These include eating disorders, depression, extreme exercising and encouraging cosmetic surgery.

Now France looks likely to back a bill banning excessively thin fashion models as well as potentially fining model agencies or fashion houses that hire them. The country would join Italy, Spain and Israel, all of which adopted similar laws in 2013.

thinness

The law would mean regular weight checks and fines of up to €75,000 for any breaches, with up to six months in jail for staff involved.

Models would also have to present a medical certificate showing a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18 and a weight of about 120 pounds for 5 foot 7 models, before being hired for a job and for a few weeks afterwards.

The bill also proposes penalties for anything that could be seen as encouraging extreme thinness, such as pro-anorexia websites.

This French ban seems to me to be on the money. But what about the other end of the scale.

Shouldn't we at least think about a similar ban on morbidly obese models such as Tess Munster? Surely she too is an unhealthy role model for women? At 5 foot 5, she's a size 22.

I think plus-size models are a boon for the starving fashion industry, but why can't we promote healthy plus-sized role models? Like the singer Meghan Trainor? Not supermodel skinny, but not overweight either.

Here in Ireland nearly two thirds of us are either overweight or obese, so surely we need to think about 'healthy weight' images rather than the crazy thin or too fat extremes.

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