You can feel the curves on the lips as shapely models smile the world over.
The message from advocates voicing their opinion and muscle that super thin models are a bad influence on impressionable young girls and a danger to themselves continues to gain momentum as one country after another is enacting legislation to punish modeling agencies that use models with a Body Mass Index lower than those prescribed by health authorities.
In her November 7, 2015 article for Market Watch, writer Tonya Garcia wrote, “A number of recent initiatives from companies including J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and Target Corp. seem to be signaling a shift in how retailers and labels view what is often a neglected market segment as they grapple with competitive pressures.
It’s a segment with a lot of opportunity for growth. Roughly 67% of women in the U.S. wear sizes 14 to 34, according to research company Plunkett Research. Yet many complain about the difficulty in finding fashionable items on the racks.”
According to an April 3, 2015 article by Time Magazine France has become the latest country to ban excessively thin models from working in the trend setting country’s fashion industry, joining other countries such as Israel, Italy and Spain.
Legislation can neither be wise nor just which seeks the welfare of a single interest at the expense and to the injury of many and varied interests.………..Andrew Johnson
It was reported by Reuters, the French legislature voted for a bill that declares: “The activity of model is banned for any person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is lower than levels proposed by health authorities and decreed by the ministers of health and labor.”
Fashion agencies that are found to be using models with a BMI under 18, which is approximately 121 pounds for a 5 ft., 7 in. model, could face up to six months of jail time and a fine of 75,000 euros.
The article continues explaining the bill, which requires models to have a medical certificate vouching for what the government deems a healthy BMI, was paired with another recent bill that bans pro-anorexia websites that promote an excessively thin image for models.
The legislation is an attempt to stop the idealization of the dangerously thin and hopefully try and reduce the continuing problem of anorexia.
In France, some researchers report that 30,000-40,000 people suffer from eating disorders, mainly teenagers.
The bill is the latest piece of an ongoing effort to try to stamp anorexia out of the fashion industry. In 2007, French fashion model Isabelle Caro posed for a shocking anti-anorexia campaign before succumbing to the disease, dying at 28.
This comes on the heels of Israel passing similar legislation back in 2012.
The information site theatlantic.com in a May 9, 2012 shared information regarding that important move. “On Monday, March 19, the Israeli parliament passed legislation ubiquitously known in the country as the Photoshop laws. The new regulations on the fashion and advertising industry ban underweight models as determined by Body Mass Index and regulate Photoshop usage in media and advertising. Abroad, the laws have opened new discussion on a government’s right to intervene in these two industries.
The legislation focuses on two elements of the fashion industry that have long drawn criticism for their effects on women and, especially, girls: ultra-thin models and the use of Photoshop to make women appear impossibly thin in advertisements. The measure has been controversial within Israel for raising the question of where free speech bumps up against the fashion industry’s responsibility — and its possible harm — to its customers’ psychological well being. It has also raised the question of whether other countries might consider similar measures to address what many activists consider a root cause of an epidemic of anorexia and other eating disorders.”
I think most of us would agree that the government’s hearts are in the right place but as you can guess they do have their critics.
Attempting to legislate with the right intentions is one thing but ensuring that the legislation have teeth is another matter. It opens the door to extensive controversy. For example what is the state’s role in regulating images that reinforce socially harmful perceptions? At what point does an image become too dangerous to publish? Where is the line between the public interest and the free speech rights of media and advertisers?
One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation…..Thomas Reed
As you see, the lines can get blurred very quickly.
While Israel’s laws tend to be paternalistic, the laws in the United States are not, which it makes it far more difficult for the government to get involved.
In America nymag.com highlighted information on the other side of the table. “Women’s Wear Daily spoke to members of the French fashion industry about their thoughts on the bill, and it sounds like complaints abound. The head of France’s model agency union, Isabelle Saint-Félix, told the paper that she felt the law unjustly penalized French modeling agencies, and could even result in fashion shows or shoots being relocated outside the country. “Modeling agencies respond to the demand of advertisers, designers and photographers,” she told the paper. “One asks models to fit in a dress — not the opposite.” She added that members of the industry had not been consulted when the law was being drafted.”
They do seem to make a good point.
If you are going to pass laws that affect a sizable number of people’s livelihood it seems like you should at least listen to some dialogue from them and receive some of their input. They may actually have some good ideas and realistic compromises.
Not speaking with them and imposing restrictions and guidelines on them, some non-negotiable, may come across as similar to the behavior of that as dictators.
As the shapely and thin sized model compete for contracts, this is one Fem Competitor issue that is not going away soon.
Please stay tuned.
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Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.