Op-ed

Underweight models should be barred from working, experts say

Models in line up backstage during the Chromat show in New York City. (Daniel C Sims/Getty Images for Chromat)

An editorial, published on Monday in the American Journal of Public Health, says that the U.S. government should be protecting its fashion models by making it illegal for dangerously thin models to work. “The U.S. government regulates the extent to which any other industry can expose employees to harm,” argue Katherine L. Record and S. Bryn Austin, the editorial’s authors. “Professional fashion models are particularly vulnerable to eating disorders resulting from occupational demands to maintain extreme thinness.” The average model at an international fashion show has a body mass index (BMI) below 16, a value that denotes “severe thinness” according to the World Health Organization. One common eating disorder, anorexia, is quietly the deadliest mental illness in the U.S., claiming the lives of one in 10 sufferers. Record and Austin believe that the U.S. should follow in the footsteps of countries such as France, where models are now required to prove they have a BMI of at least 18 in order to work. Given the standing of fashion weeks in cities such as Paris and New York City, the imposition of a minimum BMI requirement for models in the U.S. would have the potential to positively impact the health of models worldwide.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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