OPINION: Strong is the new skinny


France recently passed a law banning super skinny models and cracking down on the modeling agencies and fashion houses that choose to hire them. According to an NBC News article titled, “Anorexia Crackdown: France Bans Fashion Models Who Are Too Thin,” lawmakers approved a separate measure making it illegal to condone anorexia. It is targeting Internet sites that encourage dangerous weight loss. Italy, Spain and Israel adopted laws against too-thin models in advertising campaigns and catwalks in early 2013.

The bill states that a medical certificate showing a body mass index of at least 18, about 121 pounds for a height of 5.7 feet, would need to be presented by models before they can be hired for a job and for a couple weeks afterwards. Those who violate this new law could face imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of 75,000 euros ($82,000) for any agency violating it.

According to a Feb. 15, 2007 Daily Mail article titled, “Catwalk girl, 18, dies six months after her model sister starved herself to death,” an international debate about ultra-thin models started when an 18-year-old catwalk model had a heart attack during a fashion show and died. Her sister, who was also a model, died of suspected anorexia only months later.

Body image has been a prevalent topic in the fashion industry for a long time now, and controversy over being too heavy and skinny shaming has opened a whole new window for women on how they want to look.

“One positive about the crackdown on anorexia is that it’s refreshing to see brands embrace body confidence in women,” Macks Schmeidler, senior in apparel and textiles, said. “Skinny shaming is a bold move, but I think there’s a better solution than just shunning them out of their careers. More socially responsible measures need to be taken like educating these thin models about their health.”

The way our media portrays models can’t always be trusted. It takes a whole village to raise a child, and the same can be said for the modeling industry, in which it takes a whole team to create a look. The makeup artists, hair stylists, high-end fashion designers and photo editors spend endless hours on an aesthetic that is unachievable for the “average” person.

Kelsie Carpenter, sophomore in kinesiology, said she agrees with the banning of thin models, because she thinks they set unrealistic expectations on body image.

“People often set unrealistic goals based on the influence of the media,” Carpenter said. “Once they realize they aren’t able to achieve these goals of how they want to look and change their image through being physically active, many women will either give up on working out or turn to unhealthy measures and ways, which many eating disorders stem from.”

Companies and celebrities have been voicing their stance over the body image debate. According to a Jan. 17, 2014 Huffington Post article titled, “Aerie’s Unretouched Ads ‘Challenge Supermodel Standards’ For Young Women,” aerie launched a Spring 2014 advertising campaign titled aerie Real, where none of the models were airbrushed. It challenges the super skinny supermodel standards for young women.

“I personally view thin models as poor body image when it comes to endorsing clothes,” Maddie Connelly, sophomore in apparel and textiles, said. “I think the point of fashion is to make women feel empowered, confident and sexy. Seeing too thin of models in advertising does the opposite.”

Although we may criticize those who advertise using ridiculously skinny models, we also have the realize that brands market on what looks appealing. By no means do I mean that obnoxiously skinny models look appealing, but people are made in all different sizes. If a size zero can fit a person who is healthy, then I think that zero is a size, just not the standard size for all people.

Skinny shaming and fat shaming are equally as guilty for deconstructing the self-confidence in people, and neither is acceptable. I think the new law creates a standard that does not ban skinny models, but simply monitors the health of models in the fashion industry. The fashion world desperately needs to put an end to the body image chaos, and this could be a step in the right direction.