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Old 2nd March 2012   #1
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Default Govts. should ban underweight models (study)

Finally, some sanity may be introducing itself into the crisis of eating disorders.

The title and headline of this article says it all:

Anorexia research finds government intervention justified

Economic analysis finds that banning very skinny models from catwalk and pictures from magazines may prevent 'epidemic'

1 March 2011

Governments are justified in using the law to prevent modelling agencies from using very skinny women on catwalks and stop magazines from printing adverts and photographs that suggest extreme thinness is attractive, according to research from the LSE.

At last! In so many ways, governments are far too intrusive in everyone's lives in all Western nations. But in this one area, where intervention is not only justified but necessary, governments have been criminally negligent thus far in not getting involved.

Now, at last, there may be some action, and the anorexia-pushers of the minus-size fashion establishment may be stopped in their tracks.

The rationale for this determination comes from the results of a new study into eating disorders that draws conclusions which will surprise no one at this forum, but which the media has hitherto been reluctant to acknowledge:

The first-ever economic analysis of anorexia, studying nearly 3,000 young women in the UK and the rest of Europe, found that the social and cultural environment influences decisions by young women to starve themselves in search of what they perceive to be an ideal body shape.

Young women, who make up 90% of anorexia nervosa cases, are influenced by the size and weight of their peer group.

LSE economist Dr Joan Costa-Font and Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet from City University say that reducing the mass circulation of pictures of emaciated models and celebrities and restricting adverts in which they feature could lift some of the social pressure women feel to be thin.

"Government intervention to adjust individual biases in self-image would be justified to curb the spread of an epidemic of eating disorders," they write in their paper, to be published in the academic journal Economica later this year.

Precisely. These conclusions are blatantly obvious, yet it has taken a study such as this for the fashion industry to be confronted with the truth:

1. Images of underweight models trigger eating disorders.
2. Eliminating such images would curb eating disorders.

Another article, this one from the Daily Mail, covers the ramifications of the same study.

The pertinent facts:

The first-ever economic analysis of anorexia, studying nearly 3,000 young women in the UK and Europe, revealed that underweight models who appear in magazines and on the runway [are] responsible for distorting women's body image.

The study, to be published in the academic journal Economica later this year, also brands anorexia a 'socially transmitted disease.'

Dr Joan Costa-Font, who worked on the research conducted at the London School of Economics, said: 'Government intervention to adjust individual biases in self-image would be justified to curb the spread of a potential epidemic of eating disorders.

'We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted self-perception of one’s own body.'

The research also advocated 'reducing the mass circulation of pictures of emaciated models and celebrities and restricting adverts in which they feature.'

The only other aspect that would have made this report stronger would have been a provision that, in addition to banning emaciated models, government should mandate the use of fuller-figured models -- that is true plus-size models, over a size 14.

The report includes one comment on what could be done proactively, in addition to eliminating images of cadaverous frames:

The study recommended governments could also help promote healthier body image via social networking.

Yes, and that would certainly be commendable, but the effects would still be negligible compared to the brainwashing power of the mass media. Better to mandate the use of plus-size models in the fashion industry and plus-size actresses (young, aspirational plus-size actresses) in television and film.

Let's have the fashion industry and the media turn their powerful indoctrinating forces toward benefitting the culture, for once, instead of harming it. Let's have them compelled to celebrate full-size female bodies with the same visual artistry that they now use to glorify corpse-like androgynes.

After a time, the industry would no longer even need to be mandated to do this, as photographers and editors and designers would be aesthetically retrained and would learn to love the plus-size body. That, or the thin-worshippers would fall by the wayside, and the industry would self-select a new crop of pro-curvy talent which would gladly embrace the historic ideal of full-figured feminine beauty.
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Old 7th March 2012   #2
M. Lopez
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Default Re: Govts. should ban underweight models (study)

Thus far, to the best of my knowledge, only one nation has actually banned underweight models - Israel. Meredith posted about this commendable development in June of 2010.

Now, however, the law will go even farther. The one weakness of the previous legislation was that it only applied to ads created in Israel. Now the ban will apply to ads produced in other countries.

Thus far, this is the finest legislation of its kind in the world:

New Israeli bill seeks to widen ad ban to all underweight models

Published 04.03.12

A bill seeking to ban the use of underweight models in Israeli advertising also aims to prevent Israel's media from using ads produced overseas with too-thin models.

The bill is an effort to discourage an idealization of overly thin bodies, out of concern that such advertising encourages eating disorders and distorts perceptions - particularly among young people - of what a health body should look like.

The draft also includes a provision requiring that ads featuring computerized "photoshopped" alterations to images that make models look thinner must note that fact.

The bill raises the question, however, of how advertisers are to measure models' BMIs. "As a concept, we are in favor of the legislation," said Gil Samsonov, an advertising agency owner. "With regard to acquisitions from abroad, it will be necessary to find out what can be done. We will have to request the data from firms abroad, and if we are the first country doing this, it could create a problem."

"This law will shatter the anorexic ideal of beauty transmitted by the media, the fashion industries and advertising, and will protect the health of Israel's young people," said [Rachel] Adatto (Kadima), who heads the Knesset health lobby and is also a physician.

Danon, who is chairman of the children's health parliamentary lobby, said the law would deal a "knockout" blow in the battle for children's heath in making underweight models "a thing of the past."

The brilliance of this new legislation is that it stops Israeli advertising firms from outsourcing anorexia-pushing, as was possible until now - rather the way that some government outsource torture that they would never enact within their own borders. No longer.

The "problem" that the advertising-agency owner indicates in the article is not, in fact, a "problem" at all, but the very strength of the law. Henceforth, if any company wants their images to be seen in Israel, they can no longer use underweight models, even in ads that they shoot in the U.S. or France or anywhere else. Therefore, either the advertisers give up on a lucrative market, or they tailor their ads to feature fuller-figured models.

If just a few more nations would adopt the same policy, the fashion industry actually would change, because they would have no other choice: either stop advertising altogether, anywhere, or start using healthier, fuller-bodied models.

The extra provision in the legislation, stating that images in which the models' sizes are digitally diminished must be labelled as such, is also commendable, although frankly, the practice should be banned outright. Regardless, the focus of the legislation is excellent: it's not airbrushing per se that's the problem, it's airbrushing that is used to decrease models' body size and thus promote an anorexic ideal.

While this law might not, in and of itself, quite be enough to shatter the androgynous standard and to put an end to corpse-like models, it is the most significant step in that direction that any government has yet enacted. Let's hope that other nations and other governments follow suit.
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Old 21st March 2012   #3
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Default Re: Govts. should ban underweight models (study)

Worth noting that on Monday, Israel passed the bill that M. Lopez noted into law:

Israel now becomes the first nation to officially ban images of underweight models. Let us hope that other nations follow suit.

JERUSALEM (AP) — A new Israeli law bans showing overly thin models from local advertising in an attempt to fight the spread of eating disorders.

It also requires publications to disclose when they use altered images of models to make the women and men appear even thinner than they really are.

The law, passed late Monday, appears to be the first attempt by a government to use legislation to take on a fashion industry accused of abetting eating disorders by idealizing extreme thinness. It could become an example for other countries grappling with the spread of anorexia, particularly among young women.

Interestingly, the law was supported by at least one industry insider. Imagine - one single person in the fashion industry actually has a conscience. Shame on every other professional who did not support this much-needed legislation.

The law was championed by one of Israel's top model agents, Adi Barkan, who said in 30 years of work, he has seen young women become skinnier and sicker while struggling to fit the shrinking mold of what the industry considered attractive.

"They look like dead girls," Barkan said.

As usual, the fashion-industry apologists have trotted out their predictable, self-serving defenses. But their argument is a non-sequitur:

Critics said the legislation should have focused on health, not weight, saying many models were naturally very thin.

For the thousandth time, it doesnt matter whether a few outliers can actually look emaciated and not technically be sick. The point is the effect that these images have on other girls, on the majority of women who are not naturally skeletal, but who starve themselves, sometimes to death, to look that way.

The apologists' argument is completely absurd. It would be like saying that the tobacco industry should be able to run smoking ads, so long as the model in the ad are not dying of cancer. Well, perhaps that one model is not dying of cancer just yet, but millions of people who do take up smoking will die.

The legislator who tabled the bill has a perfect answer to these specious criticisms:

Legislator Adato said only 5 percent of women had BMI that naturally fell under 18.5.

"On the one hand, maybe we'll hurt a few models," Adato said. "On the other hand, we'll save a lot of children."

Exactly. And she offers the best final word:

Legislator Adato said she hoped Israel would be an example other countries could study.

"You don't need to be underweight to be beautiful, or successful," she said.

All so-called "voluntary" oversight of the industry has been a joke, a sham, and has done nothing to curb the proliferation of underweight models. Only actual government edicts such as this can reform this truly toxic industry.
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Old 22nd March 2012   #4
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Default Re: Govts. should ban underweight models (study)

It's gratifying to see photographer/agent Adi Barkan quoted in the article. His name has come up on the forum several times over the past few years, in connection with his tireless efforts to reform the fashion industry.

One story concerned a model who tragically died from anorexia:

Another dealt with his efforts to photograph fuller-figured models:

This CNN video report of a couple of years back highlighted his campaign. Click the arrow to play:

He truly is a man with a conscience. In the video, he makes this unvarnished confessional, with regret, about formerly being one of the abettors of the emaciated standard, one of the agents who sent girls to starve:

Ten years ago, I was one of them. I send a lot of girls to lose a few kilos. I didn't know that I was sending the girls to die. I didn't know that she would go on and stop eating.

His plan for reform is ambitious, but long past due:

Next year, I want to turn on the TV and only see healthy girls. This means, we have to change 75 percent of the market.

If anything, 75 percent is a conservative estimate. But it's entirely necessary.

It's wonderful that at least one person in fashion approaches his job responsibly. But it's also tragic that the rest of the fashion industry does not. If there were more men like Mr. Barkan, the fashion industry wouldn't be the toxic blight on society that it currently is, and it wouldn't ruin women's lives -- let alone lead to their deaths.
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Old 26th March 2012   #5
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Default Re: Govts. should ban underweight models (study)

The draft also includes a provision requiring that ads featuring computerized "photoshopped" alterations to images that make models look thinner must note that fact.

I am a bit disappointed that they did not completely ban the use of Photoshopping to make models look thinner. Allowing the use of photo editing means the designers can and will still put out pro-speaker-coil wire-thin ads. The "noting of the fact" more than likely just means some super-fine print at the bottom of the page that nobody will ever read.

I was reading through the commentary at the original article, and I see a lot of pro-thin comments, none of which make any sense.

One of the more common claims is that a democratic government has no right to ban underweight models in any way. Well, one of the main purposes of any government, including a democratic government, is to protect its citizens from both foreign attacks as well as to dangers to its citizens from within the nation. This mass-media pro-thin nonsense leading to mass anorexia and body-weight-related depression certainly qualifies as a threat to a nation's citizens.

Some guys also posted that they prefer needle-thin girls to curvy full-figured girls. For me, I wouldn't want to hug a skeleton-thin girl for fear of crushing every bone in her body. A beautiful full-figured curvaceous girl, on the other hand, I would not want to stop hugging.
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Old 6th April 2012   #6
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Default Re: Govts. should ban underweight models (study)

Originally Posted by Meredith
The report includes one comment on what could be done proactively, in addition to eliminating images of cadaverous frames:

The study recommended governments could also help promote healthier body image via social networking.
Yes, and that would certainly be commendable, but the effects would still be negligible compared to the brainwashing power of the mass media. Better to mandate the use of plus-size models in the fashion industry and plus-size actresses (young, aspirational plus-size actresses) in television and film.

I concur -- such government-sponsored social-networking campaigns would be commendable, but wouldn't be able to combat mass-media indoctrination.

The Australian government sponsors a set of body-image awards, which

recognise the positive steps taken by the media and entertainment, fashion and advertising industries to adopt the principles outlined in the Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image.

The Web page of this initiative appears here:

It's well-meant. But regrettably, few magazines, let alone television shows or films, will pursue this. Why should they? After all, their only reward would be government recognition -- essentially, a pat on the back and some good PR. How can that compare to the millions of dollars that these entities receive from advertisers, all of which want to push the anorexic standard? These entities will bow to advertisers before they bow to any voluntary code of conduct.

Thus, underweight models must be banned and fuller-figured bodies mandated. That, after all, is the role of government in cases such as this, which directly affect the public good.
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Old 9th May 2012   #7
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Default Re: Govts. should ban underweight models (study)

The Israeli ban on using underweight models is already having an effect, I believe. I am quite sure that the only reason that Conde Nast brought together all of the world's Vogue editors to claim that they would no longer be using underweight girls (as reported on this forum) is because of this Israeli action.

Like naughty children, they've seen that at least one parent means business, and they have finally been compelled to admit their misdeeds. However, I'm doubtful that the Vogue policy will be put into practice. (I hope to be proven wrong.) On the other hand, if all governments would follow Israel's example and flat-out regulate against promoting anorexia, then the fashion industry actually would change.

Here's a worthwhile article on the Israeli law and the thinking behind it.

An icon in the fashion world, [photographer and fashion model agent Adi] Barkan tried to deal with the issue from the inside: appealing for change within his beloved industry, to an overwhelmingly negative response of doubts, jabs, and apathy.

"I became immersed in this world very quickly. I gave up the agency and photography and delved into the dark world of anorexics and bulimics," he said. "I realized that only legislation can change the situation. There was no time to educate so many people, and the change had be forced on the industry. There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death."

Precisely. The proponents of simply educating women about the dangers of malnourishment assume that their effects can have an impact, whereas in actual fact, the visual glamourization of a cadaverous look is infinitely more powerful. (Aesthetics always trumps lectures.) Furthermore, education, if it is successful at all, takes years, even generations, to bear any fruit. In the meantime, women are killing themselves with diet-starvation and exercise-torture.

Only government legislation, of the kind that Israel has passed, can stop the horror NOW.

What's more, the law is terribly lenient to the fashion industry. It still allows models to be extremely thin; merely not utterly corpse-like:

The law forbids underweight models from working on advertisements. A doctor must certify that a model can be employed by measuring him or her and determining that the model's Body Mass Index (BMI) is at or above 18.5, which the World Health Organization defines as indicative of malnutrition. A five-foot, seven-inch individual, for example, must weigh at least 118 pounds to work as a model in Israel. On March 19, the bill was easily passed by the majority of the parliament.

One would wish that a law would ban all models under a size 14, but at least this is progress.

Because the law was initiated by a fashion insider, the apologists for the fashion world couldn't use their typical excuses. Mr. Barkan knew the truth first hand:

Unsurprisingly, there's been backlash from some modeling agencies in Israel. "Agencies say 'all of our models are eating perfect they're just skinny' but it's not true and we know it's not true," Adato insisted. "Only 5 percent of girls that are under 18.5 BMI are girls that are eating well in Israel."

The article also notes the inadequacy of the fashion industry's own efforts at reform (thus far).

In 2007, an industry-wide fashion trade association called the Council for Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) formed a health initiative that, according to its website, "is about awareness and education, not policing. Therefore, the committee does not recommend that models get a doctor's physical examination to assess their health or body-mass index to be permitted to work."

The CFDA...epitomizes the failure of the fashion industry to protect their employees from within, which is what Barkan rallied for -- and also failed to achieve -- in Israel before pushing legislative action. Why educate models and designers about the existence of these diseases and then explicitly not recommend a visit to the doctor?

I hope that Vogue's guidelines will be more effective, but I'm not optimistic.

The entire article is worth a read.
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