Speed Reads

Health and Wealthness

France just banned unhealthily skinny models. Could the U.S. be next?

France, home to one of the world's biggest fashion capitals, recently passed an influential law requiring models to prove they are a healthy weight before they can work in the country. In a paper published this week, two experts from the Harvard Chan School's Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED) have called for the United States to follow suit, Newsweek reports.

According to STRIPED, the U.S. should prohibit the hiring of models with a body mass index (BMI) of below 18; the average model, according to the paper, has a BMI of 16, which is considered anorexia nervousa, or dangerously thin, by the World Health Organization. For a 5'10" model to have a BMI of 18, she would have to weigh at least 125 pounds.

The authors argue that by joining France, the United States could help to alter the entire industry, because Fashion Weeks in New York and Paris are two of the most important events in the modeling world. However, there are some who disagree with BMI regulations. "It commodifies women in a kind of revolting way. This idea that you have to weigh women and check their bodies is creepy. It's almost like getting a horse and checking its teeth," former Australian Vogue Editor-in-Chief Kirstie Clements told Today.

The American Journal of Psychiatry found that women with anorexia are 12 times more likely to die than a woman without the disorder; as many as 10 percent of women die within 10 years of developing the eating disorder.

"The fashion industry refers to its top models as clothes hangers — the less mass within the outfit, the better the display, the better the employee," STRIPED said in the report. "Not surprisingly, this takes a toll: models have died of starvation-related complications, sometimes just after stepping off the runway."