Proud2Bme | Fashion Forward?: France's Ban on Underweight Models

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Fashion Forward?: France's Ban on Underweight Models

By Claire Trainor--When most people think about models, they think of tall, emaciated women strutting down the catwalk in clothing very few people would ever dare to wear. But France, the country many consider to be the fashion capital of the world, is beginning to change that.

French prime minister has recently come out in support of plans that would “criminalize advertising with anorexic models.” Furthermore, the bill would make promoting “excessive thinness” a crime punishable by a fine of up to 10,000 euros and one year in prison. Bye-bye pro-ana websites.

This bill, which follows actions taken by Israel and Spain, is a step in the right direction. While it isn’t fair to say that eating disorders are caused by the media, it is fair to say that from the time young children are old enough to be forming gender schemas, the extremely successively, famous women they see tend to be thin. From a very young age, we are made to believe that the most beautiful people in the world, the ones who show up on our TV screens and in our fashion shows, must be thin.

By outlawing excessive thinness on the runways, we remove that idea from invading the mind of young children. And by removing the idea from children, we remove it from ourselves, too. No one’s eating disorder is a direct cause of the media or the modeling industry or Barbie. But our subconscious ideals about beauty—which stem in part from the media—certainly contribute to the desire to be thin.

Criminalizing excessive thinness won’t solve the epidemic of eating disorders. But it will give the models, many of who have been pushed by the industry to lose weight, the break from the industry they deserve. It will allow those in the fashion industry who suffer from an eating disorder a chance to recover without the pressure of the job.

Banning pro-ana websites won’t help to educate the people who believe eating disorders are something to strive for. But it will get the material off of the Internet, helping to protect those vulnerable from seeing harmful materials. It will help portray eating disorders as illnesses, not crash diets or lifestyles.

The steps France and other countries are taking cannot solve the problem. But they are admirable pushes towards a world where society does not glorify mental illness. There are still millions of men and women who suffer from eating disorders who do not meet the clinical standards for anorexia or who aren’t skeletal and emaciated like many models we see.

Their stories are just as important, their illnesses just as life threatening. Removing excessively thin models from the runway and other places is one piece in the puzzle—it won’t give us a whole picture of what a world without eating disorders would look like, but it’s necessary in solving the puzzle.

About this blogger: Claire Trainor is a freshman at DePaul University majoring in Creative Writing and Psychology. In steady recovery from an eating disorder, she wants to educate, support, and inspire those struggling in anyway. She likes her dogs, hot chocolate, and books.Claire currently runs a personal recovery blog.

Photo courtesy of Christophe Ena/AP

For more by Claire: 

For Lacey

Sticks and Stones

Breaking the Skinny Mirror

What's Underneath?

A Recovery Post That Talks About Real Recovery

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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