A recent article on CBC News reports that France is “likely to ban super-skinny models” from their runways because of a link between “high fashion”, “body image”, and “eating disorders on French catwalks”.
The conversation about the real meaning of beauty has reached quite a level of prominence; that a country well-known as a leader in the fashion industry is ready to act bodes well. But the proposed solution seems to hold within its very premise its demise.
For isn’t banning super skinny models a form of marginalisation? And hasn’t history shown us repeatedly that marginalising a population is not a long-term, comprehensive solution to any problem.
It also seems contradictory to the reason why it was suggested in the first place. After years of suggesting to women that unless they are super skinny, they are not beautiful, the French fashion industry seems poised on suggesting super skinny women that they aren’t beautiful unless they have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18.
Instead, the industry might want to figure out how to reflect the beauty that can be found in women of all sizes. For example, it could learn to incorporate various body shapes and sizes on the catwalk, ensuring that the models on its catwalks reflect the weight distribution in the population they are catering to. This means that most models would be of average size, with some “outliers” on both sides of the continuum. It would also provide an interesting challenge to the many talented designers out there to create high fashion clothing that would glorify all body shapes and sizes.
Whatever ends up happening, the conversation has taken a step ahead what with an official recognition by France, a leader in the fashion industry, of the negative effects its decisions have on the well-being of millions of women around the world. I look forward to the next stages of this dialogue in coming months and years.
Image credit: Web2Present.