France’s Ban On Thin Models Won’t Fix The Industry’s Weight Issue

France, the beauty capital of the world, is the latest country to ban models that have a Body Mass Index of 18 or less. The BMI scale rates you on a height to weight ratio to determine what is healthy for someone your size. To be deemed healthy, your score must range from 18 to 24.

BMI-Chart

This recent French ruling is one that follows Israel, Spain, and Italy. Now that there have been 4 countries to jump on this healthy weight bandwagon, I can’t help but think of how discriminatory it is. By assuming a low BMI equates to an eating disorder, we are shaming women who merely have smaller frames. The Telegraph describes this law to ban fashion and modeling agencies from using women with such a low BMI as a way to “confuse anorexia with the slimness of models.”

Being too thin is now a thing.

One Parisian psychoanalyst, Jean-Michel Huet, points out that since the ban is on women being too small and projecting an unhealthy image, there should also be a ban on prima ballerinas, singers, actresses, etc. The correlation of BMI and health is all dependent on the person.

“There are women who eat normally who are very, very thin” explains Secretary General of France’s National Union of Modeling Agencies, Isabelle Saint-Felix. These women that are biologically smaller are now being told they look ill. Saint-Felix goes on to state in an article in Time that by changing a law, it is not eliminating eating disorders across the world. It may, in fact, even have reverse effects.

“Is forcing some models into a thicker shape that may not be natural for them the best way to solve a health problem?”

By no means am I condoning any eating disorder or unhealthy habits used to maintain weight, but by imposing this law, the people who are struggling with eating disorders and have of a complex about their self-worth aren’t going to feel better. Women, and even men who have anorexia or bulimia, are not going to jump for joy when they hear that everything they put their body and mind through isn’t good enough for the pressures of our current advertising ideals.

Thanks sweetie, but you tried too hard. We no longer accept your size.

measuring self

If models keep going up in sizes, the smallest girls will still be ridiculed. The numbers or letters on a tag will be altered and those at the lowest end will, again, be labeled as sick. As the size norm grows larger, those who are plus size, and are so due to unhealthy habits, will believe their lifestyle is acceptable. But what about heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other disease that are more common in larger people. What about trying to help cure illness on that end of the size spectrum?

There will never be a perfect size.

No matter what clothes we fit in, we are exposed to judgement. There are voices in all of our heads that compare us to someone else. It’s a matter of who listens to those voices and how they react to what is shown through media. Banning too-small-girls from a career may help a few but the real solution lies within mental health awareness and teaching women how to be confident.

Featured image via Chris Mack

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