The study conducted by the London School of Economics–the first-ever economic analysis of anorexia–based their findings on a group of nearly 3,000 young women in the UK and Europe, and discovered that the size and weight of their peer group, and of the women they see in magazines and on the runway, was largely responsible for spreading the “socially transmitted disease.”
“We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted self-perception of one’s own body,” said economist Dr Joan Costa-Font, who worked on the study.
Costa-Front, along with Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet from City University, added that “reducing the mass circulation of pictures of emaciated models and celebrities and restricting adverts in which they feature,” could be instrumental in decreasing the rate of anorexia cases in young women, and that the government would be more than justified to draft legislature to support this principle.
“The distorted self-perception of women with food disorders and the importance of the peer effects may prompt governments to take action to influence role models and compensate for social pressure on women driving the trade-off between ideal weight and health,” they wrote in their paper.
Costa-Front and Jofre-Bonet added that governments unwilling to create new rules and legislations to regulate the modeling and advertising industries, could intervene by supporting social media campaigns, which promote the idea that being dangerously underweight is neither healthy nor attractive, and that these campaigns would in turn (hopefully) change the face of advertising and modeling.
Obviously it’s a no-brainer that the amount of extremely underweight models we see in magazines and on the runway is having a negative impact on the average young woman’s psyche. Stateside, the CFDA has already tried battling the problem by promoting greater awareness within the industry, and creating healthier working place conditions, however the effectiveness of this program is, so far, debatable.
Could the industry benefit from government legislation or is the ban of very thin models neither fair nor realistic? As we know, not every underweight model is anorexic. Models who suffer from anorexia should be supported and receive treatment. So there obviously needs to be more to this than just “banning” them from runways. And pulling thin models would mean regulating and changing the entire industry. Pretty powerful implications if governments choose to act on this study.
What’s your take?