SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Duchess of Windsor once said, ‘you can never be too rich or too thin.’ But a Bay Area lawmaker believes she is wrong–at least on one account–and has proposed a ban on models who look ‘too thin’ on the runway.
In fact, San Rafael Assemblyman Marc Levine wants to ban anorexic models on the catwalk altogether. He has introduced AB2539, which takes its cue from a similar laws already on the books in France, Italy and Spain. The hope is that models will stop starving themselves to get work, and women and girls will stop starving themselves to look like models.
The bill addresses the pervasive power of the fashion industry to shape culture and its ability to “define, transmit and reinforce an unrealistic standard of thinness,” particularly to girls and teens.
“Scientific research has shown that viewing media images of extremely thin models leads to body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls and young women, especially those who already have heightened
vulnerability to eating disorders,” it says.
Modeling agencies would be required to keep on file doctors’ certifications attesting that models do not suffer from an eating disorder, or risk penalties and steep fines.
The proposed law has garnered support from models and agencies alike. Sara Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance says eating disorders are an occupational hazard for models. “AB 2539 will help improve the health and well-being of this mostly young, female workforce whose concerns are too often trivialized and dismissed.”
Model turned mental health advocate Nikki DuBose agrees.
“As a former fashion model and an eating disorder survivor, I know that this legislation is critically needed and long over-due,” says DuBose.
However, unlike the French law, AB2539 does not specify a specific weight requirement. French agencies cannot use models with a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 18. That’s about 121 pounds stretched over a 5’7″ frame.
Still, it’s a start. If such a law were passed it would put California in the vanguard when it comes to creating a healthier work environment for models. Levine hopes that healthy models on the runway will make for healthier girls and women in society at-large.
“This is a societal problem as unhealthy models have become role models for young people,” says Levine on his website. “As California often leads the nation and the world, this bill will help assure that our children will see healthy images on magazines and fashion websites.”