Last week, a member of the New York City Council “proposed pushing sponsors to ban abnormally thin models from walking New York Fashion Week’s runways,” according to a CNN report. (Yes, this is the same New York City that is banning trans fats from its restaurants as an anti-obesity measure.) Other jurisdictions have recently taken similar steps—partly to protect the models, partly to protect impressionable youth from seeing extreme skinniness idealized. There’s no question that anorexia is a real problem. But it’s not an especially common one. Research from earlier in this decade estimated that “0.5 percent to 3.7 percent of females suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime.” By contrast, excessive weight is now the American norm. In light of such statistics, it’s hard to argue that skinny models are more of a public-health menace than plus-size models when seen on runways and in ads. If lawmakers wish to do more than strike a pose, surely they should proscribe the latter as well as the former. Or, they could simply drop the pretense that they have a useful role to play in this matter.
—Posted by Mark Dolliver