BMI Bans: Helpful or Harmful?
Recently, there is a lot of coverage on the laws being passed in countries, such as France, which ban models under a certain BMI from walking the runway. But, are BMI-based bans really helpful in curbing anorexia? Or – are the bans creating more problems and reinforcing the idea that it is okay for society to deem what size, shape, weight a woman’s body should be, in order to be deemed acceptable?
Agencies and companies will face steep consequences, including fines in the upwards of $80,000.00 dollars and prison time, if they are caught allowing models with less than an 18.0 BMI walk the runway. Despite the magnitude of these potential penalties, some models that do not meet the BMI requirements will go to drastic measures to make the runway weigh in. According to the Observer, a model named “Lauren” reported that models wore weighted spanks and/or placed weights in their hair to get the green light to walk in Fashion Week, in Spain.
The idea behind the BMI ban is to combat anorexia and pro-anorexia websites and/or advertisements by keeping too-thin models from walking the runway. While it may have been well intended, that does not necessarily make it successful. A person’s BMI is not a reliable indicator of his or her health. In fact, there is no direct correlation between one’s BMI and one’s health nor is there a one-size-fits-all measurement of health. Instead, there are many factors that contribute to the overall health of a person.
Ultimately, the ban places even more pressure on all female models to make sure their bodies meet society’s newest requirements. Therefore, healthy women are forced to fit their bodies into this new mold, and those with eating disorders are forced to either gain weight or get creative. If a model does have anorexia and is willing to go to drastic measures to try to work, both of these drastic options can be potentially detrimental to her life.
It’s great countries are not simply talking about promoting healthy body images within society, and are taking action. But – the danger lies in reducing ones overall health to one measurement of health and to specific numbers. From straight models to plus models, women are united in the fact that they all feel an immense amount of pressure from what society deems acceptable. Both ends of the spectrum are facing reductive thinking rooted in numbers, but there is more to health and beauty than one’s measurements.