I’ve always disliked the concept of telling people how they ought to be. This includes their shape as well as their ideas.
I think most people agree with me, and when I say this I sometimes get choruses of encouragement about “the media telling us how we should look”. Unfortunately, that’s not what I mean.
I consider the media to be a demand-driven environment. We consume what we want, and if we spend all our time obsessing over stick-thin models, we only have ourselves to blame when our perception of attractiveness alters as a consequence. I don’t buy into the “media conspiracy to make us all insecure in our bodies”.
So when I say that I don’t like the idea of telling people how they ought to be, what I’m actually referring to is the new trend in countries that tend towards nanny-statism to regulate what size models are allowed to be if they’re going to model clothes. I’m astonished that elected or appointed officials think they have a role in deciding the shape and size of people on catwalks.
While the debate about what a “healthy” weight is and what we mean by “healthy” in the first place is probably valuable in its own right, I think that it crosses the line into an infringement of people’s free expression when authorities start mandating what weight or BMI a model is allowed to have it they’re going to be seen by the public.
Monitoring them for eating disorders is a great idea, I’m all for it – the models themselves are often young and under immense pressure to appear perfect, and sometimes that degree of body-consciousness can lead to skewed behaviours, just don’t cross the line into saying that because someone has a high metabolism and therefore appears very tall and thin, they’re no longer employable as a model. That’s not an appropriate area for the law to start regulating – to my mind.
We appear very concerned with the possibility of making people anorexic by displaying extremely thin people in the media. I understand the concern. I’m more concerned with obesity as it is statistically a much more significant problem. I would be personally very happy to see a change in our body-shape preferences towards a very “healthy” (by which I mean fit) look. If we could admire and aspire to looking like people who look good because they do lots of sport, rather than exercise huge discipline over their eating habits, that would be good, and we might get over this concept that thin is bad or good, because that’s a function of the person. But that’s probably just my personal tastes getting in the way of my reasoning.
I certainly wouldn’t advocate regulation to push the trend one way or the other – that usually backfires – you change tastes and preferences by influencing, educating and informing people, not telling them what it is permissible to look at or to believe.