New research from the London School of Economics says that if the government wanted to prevent fashion brands and talent agencies from using anorexic models, it would be justified by the fact that imagery of super-skinny women actually does appreciable psychological damage to women and young girls.
The Guardian reports that LSE’s study, which is the first known economic analysis of anorexia, found that reducing the number of images of pin thin women on television and in magazines would “lift some of the social pressure women feel to be thin.” And because of that, the study says that new laws and regulations that put limits on how thin a model can be would be worth the effort.
“Government intervention to adjust individual biases in self-image would be justified to curb the spread of a potential epidemic of food disorders,” they write in their paper, to be published in the academic journal Economica later this year.
“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.”
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Government officials in Europe and the United States have been working to curb the appearances of images of unrealistically thin women in the media over the past few years. In 2008 the French Parliament made it illegal to display images of “extreme thinness,” and Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has been banning images of skinny women left and right. The idea has even gained some traction here in the United States, but there’s not a law on the books about how thin a model should or shouldn’t appear to be in images.
But now that the research has been done, how long do you think it’ll be before we’ve got a law that says models should look healthy instead of emaciated?