By now we’ve all heard the news. France has put a ban on too thin models. Quite honestly, it was long overdue, if the millions of women with eating disorders weren’t any cue.
The French government’s recently passed law puts a ban on excessively thin models on the runway, and will subject fashion houses who use excessively thin models to fines and jail time. Specifically, the law declares that models must prove that they have a BMI of at least 18 before they are hired for jobs. At 5’9’’ (the average height of a female model) a BMI of 18 is still fairly low, and is the usual BMI for a model around the 125 pound mark. However, it is well out the realm for a model who is probably bordering on an eating disorder, or who is starving herself to be ultra thin.
The measure comes as part of a crackdown from President Francois Hollande who believes that too thin models help promote anorexia, and he has a point. Also, when did being a double zero with not an ounce of body fat become the standard for beauty (not that double zero aren’t beautiful, but they aren’t the ONLY women who are beautiful.) Back in the day it was all about the curves (cue footage of Ms. Marilyn Monroe.)
Being thin should not be the only standard for beauty, and what would be great is if society would move away from the idea that skinny means healthy, because that is not always the case. Of course, there should be absolutely no shame in being a slender size zero girl anymore than there should be in being a full figured size twelve girl. The point is that there is more than one body type, and more than one way to be sexy, which is what France is trying to prove.
Having girls on the runway who actually promote a healthy body image is important to the well being of women everywhere. France is not the first country to impose BMI minimums for models, however. Madrid and Israel have also imposed similar restrictions to discourage the use of excessively thin girls to help discourage eating disorders in women.
For the sake of playing devil’s advocate, there are certainly those who are asking, “Well, if you draw the line at models that are too thin, where do you draw the line at models that are too fat?” Let’s remember that is possible to be full figured and healthy, some girls just really are built to be size zeros while other girls are built to be size twelve’s. No one is built to starve themselves to death though, because an eating disorder is never a good look on anyone.
Even acclaimed American Vogue Editor Anna Wintour has complained about how girls on the runway have been too thin, and when the queen of the fashion bible speaks, everyone else should follow suit. In 2012, CFDA president Diane von Furstenburg did release a set of model guidelines back in 2012, but, they were more targeted toward age than size or weight. There was mention of how to target eating disorders among models, but, the guidelines stopped short of making any real change on the size or weight issue.
So, unfortunately, America does not seem poised to follow suit anytime soon. CFDA president Steven Kolb has said that rather than pushing for legislation, he would rather educate and create awareness around these issues. At least Vogue has tackled the issue of having models that are too young in attempt to put an end to the obsession with teen-like thinness.
There are women who used to be literally dying to look like those girls, but, the keywords here are women and girls. A woman of even the most slender proportions who’s the pinnacle of health can’t possibly open a magazine and expect to have the figure of a model that is sixteen years old, because no matter how gracefully you age or how well you take care of yourself unless you have some literal fountain of youth at your disposal your body changes. To hold an adult woman to the standards of teen thinness is merely ludicrous. Thank you France for doing what was long overdue, and may you continue to be a beacon of light to the rest of the fashion industry in promoting images of healthy women on the runways and in magazines.