March 17, 2015

Will banning thin models save lives?

Really? Really?
There is a widespread belief that having very thin people be visible to the public will "encourage" "cause" "trigger" or "inspire" eating disorders.

The French government is now weighing in on this topic with a finger wagging "ban" on fashion models being too thin. They're not the first, nor the last, as this is a type of campaign that keeps going on and I need to get this off my chest:

You're making it worse.

And yes, I'm still a feminist.

By tut-tutting and shaming people's bodies -- even emaciated models -- we not only offer the media the opportunity to haul out their most thinspirational images but we embed the concept that people with mental illness are driven mad by desire to look a certain way.

Being a feminist and a parent and a woman with a body to walk around in I have no time or patience for the catwalk at any level.

I also think boxers being publicly weighed in their tighty-whities and gymnasts being bent into permanent childlike shapes and anti-obesity posters in the schools and the fact that entertainers of all sizes except a 2 are considered punchlines are a problem for all of us.

But for the love of Pete, setting the standard for indignation and action at the very tallest and thinnest among us is almost genius if you consider pro-ana a brand. These campaigns banning models could be written by ED, and in fact I often wonder if they are.

Banning "too thin" models may save some model's lives, but that's not what these campaigns are about, and we all know it. This is about shaming bodies for being "too" something, and a massive misrepresentation of mental illness.

I wish eating disorder advocates and activists would stop creating, tagging, liking, retweeting, and tut-tutting over models. If we want the topic to be taken seriously we have to realize that we, ourselves, need to model a view of eating disorders that isn't about thinness, or "banning" people from view.

5 comments:

  1. Amen. I also think it is, at best, a waste of time to campaign against "feeling fat" emoticons etc., at least in the name of eating disorders campaigning.

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  2. Guilty as charged, but I agree that is not an ED issue.

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  3. Thank you for educating me enough to understand the nuances of things like this. A measurement of health that didn't involve BMI would not be remiss--and that is something which could be industry wide, not just focused on thinness.

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  4. Getting the public to see mental illness as real AND see that "food is medicine" is really a challenge. It's like one concept pushes the other out of the way when it is BOTH.

    The fact that BMI does not measure nutritional status also seems to confuddle people. BMI never was meant to be used to describe individuals: it was a population measure, a bell curve, not normative. So we have a series of confuddling, confounding, confusions.

    And the patients are the ones who suffer as a result!

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  5. On the other hand, as a workers rights issue, models should not be forced to be at an unhealthy weight to have a job. I would be concerned that this may place them at risk for some serious health problems. Furthermore, although I don't see this as primarily an eating disorder issue, the low weight may trigger some eating disorder symptoms in some people.

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