Appearance and Being Thin

Just before its last election France passed an edict requiring models to have a medical certificate that they are not underweight.  Another edict specifies that retouched photos in ads (not in editorial contents) must be specified as such. The laws were hailed of course but with caution. Model advocates wonder if it may end up being one more layer of authority models have to deal with or whether it will indeed help and make a difference. Models have been exploited and work in an environment where the balance of power is heavily skewed against them. S Bryn Austin of the Harvard School of Public Health did not think the laws would solve all the problems but said, “ it will be one step closer to stemming the well-documented psychological harm these images cause, especially to young and vulnerable consumers. France is saying to the fashion and advertising industries that it’s time they acted responsibly toward the people on whom their livelihoods depend.”  Although the edicts applies to all European Union countries,  because France is a leader in the fashion industry, it is hoped other countries such as the United States will follow.  Indeed  such a law or its equivalent  is  just as necessary here. Our culture has become so centered on appearance and appearance, despite our obesity crisis, is so focused on weight and being thin that a shift in our standards is needed. It is a question of health of course, the reason that prompted the French laws, but also one of priority, even one of seeing that the immaterial part of ourselves can be, or more accurately is, more valuable than our body image.