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Our superficial ways are killing teens

22 December 2015, 07:50Marisa Crous

So, earlier this year there was talk of the French government passing a bill that would require models to go for regular health check-ups to ensure they are healthy, eating and not underweight. French lawmakers have now passed this bill much to the delight of people everywhere. Retouched images of models in print and online media should now also be labelled "touched up", i.e. when a model is Photoshopped to appear slimmer or (and this I doubt ever happens) wider. Publishers will be subject to fines in case they fail to abide by this new law.

The average high-fashion model weighs less than F1 legend, Michael Schumacher, after being in an 83-day long coma, following a skiing accident, which is 50 kg.  So, clearly, there is an infatuation with super skinny frames. But is the modelling/ fashion industry really the main culprit when it comes to the perpetuation of eating disorders like most believe? I feel that it’s been made the scapegoat for many years.

The bill passed in France excites us. It's like, yes, something is being done, but the thing that's "being done" is a drop in the bucket. The rate at which eating disorders are spreading (and promoted via pro-ana sites and social media) is alarming and it has (already) gone too far. According to InsiderMonkey.com, France is not even one of the 11 countries where eating disorders are the most prevalent. China tops this list, with India coming in at a close second. France deals with about 30,000 to 40,000 adolescent cases of anorexia nervosa in a single year, which still doesn't include cases like bulimia and other eating disorders.

Image: Getty

So this new law, will it really work? Will it change anything? There is always a way around these type of regulations and fakery is easy AF. The fashion industry will find a way to keep models looking like human hangers. It's much like gender equality: it HAS TO start with the way we think about our own bodies and the bodies of others. I would say especially when it comes to those at super impressionable ages, like teens. Will enforcing laws that protect young girls, like making sure they see fewer images of emaciated bodies wrapped in haute couture help? It's a start yes, but it’s not the solution.

Instead of blaming one industry, I’d rather ask why we feel the need to measure up. The emphasis has been placed on valuing ourselves purely based on our looks. We have all become exhibitionists. Hello, think Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat. These new modelling regulations are, presumably, great news. Yet, I simply don't think policing the modelling industry will drastically change our eating disorder stats.

Problem is, people simply don't talk about eating disorders like it’s a real illness. People whisper and gossip (same as they do with the obese), still refusing to see it as a problem which kills girls every day. The mind-shift still has to happen. Without this, laws are useless - as we've seen in many countries where marital rape for example is illegal, yet chauvinist minds still silence raped wives.

Unless we start to find value in more than the superficial, and fast, we are doomed to a world that's made almost entirely of plastic. I think the key might just be to reconnect, not on a technological level, but on a human level.

- Woman24


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