Maybe you’ve heard about this... the "new" debate about whether or not models are too skinny. In September 2006, the Madrid government intervened in the fashion industry and required models to have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18 (a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal). Models who had a BMI lower than 18 were banned from participating in the country’s top fashion show on the grounds that they were "too skinny."
I caught the end of an interview on the Today Show this morning discussing whether or not the similar standards should be required in the U.S. On the Today’s Show homepage this morning, you could vote on the "Question of the Day" which was "Should fashion models' weight be regulated?" The final numbers were 78 percent yes, 22 percent no.
In my opinion, this is a loaded question. Who exactly would the "collective we" be trying to help by regulating weight in the modeling industry. The models? Young girls? Young women? Society?
I get it, you know. I get the whole society, ideal beauty, impressionable young girls argument. I get the health argument, the eating disorder argument. But I also get the aspiration marketing argument. It’s a tough situation.
Here’s what I don’t get. Why does the government or a particular industry believe that they should be able to regulate an individual’s weight? Moreover, in a free, capitalist society, how can we tell designers who can and can’t wear their clothes in marketing campaigns that they are paying for?
Once again, I feel this is an argument about personal responsibility. If a designer wants to be responsible for choosing models at an appropriate weight, I think that’s awesome. If a model wants to make sure that she is healthy, great. If a young girl's parents teach her that a model’s measurements are not the only definition of beauty, fabulous.
By the way, I voted "no." How would you have voted?