French ban the promotion of extreme thinness

Filed under: In The News, Mommy Wars, Media, That's Entertainment

Can you imagine opening the glossy pages of a high fashion magazine and NOT seeing stick thin models? This is may be made reality in France.

The French parliament's lower house has recently adopted a landmark bill that would make it illegal for anyone to promote or "publicly incite" extreme thinness. Remarkably, this legislation won unanimous support from the ruling conservative UMP party and was approved in a series of votes by the National Assembly. It goes to the Senate in the next few weeks, and if passed, it would affect affect the way fashion magazines, Web sites, advertisers and other media portray thinness.

French couture are of course opposed to the idea of legal boundaries on beauty standards--but just think how a ban on the portrayal of extreme thinness might positively affect the way women and young girls see themselves.

Of course, it seems like fashion models have almost been replaced in the U.S. by the Hollywood elite. It is more likely for an actress to grace the covers of Vogue or Elle than for a model. And I imagine were a similar ban to be put in place here, the American appetite for Hollywood gossip would blur the lines between promoting thinness and portraying a lifestyle that places an extremely high value on thinness.

But I'll be watching the outcome of this with interest. In my small high school, probably one in three girls (or more) had an eating disorder of some sort, and two were memorably hospitalized. Now I teach first graders and I am constantly listening to little girls talk about their weight. "I'm thin," they say proudly, as if they were declaring that thin equals smart or creative or talented. And it kind of makes my heart ache.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.