You may recall about a week ago I posted a question here on the site titled Should We Regulate How Much Models Weigh?
There were a range of answers to the question with some of you saying that the fashion industry is responsible for setting healthy examples and that stick thin models are bad for society and promote eating disorders.
And guess what – it appears that some of you may just be right. According to a new study that followed 3,000 women in Europe and the UK, anorexia is a socially transmitted illness. Researchers at the London School of Economics and City University London argue that some form of regulation of the fashion and advertising industry would lessen social and peer pressure and result in less eating disorders among women. The schools conclude that imposing these regulations would have a public health benefit. But I’m not so sure I agree.
Remember my old Fat Friends post from a while back? That piece was inspired by a Harvard grad student who suggested that obesity was also a socially transmitted illness, and that by being friends with overweight people, you would increase your own chances of packing on the weight. At the time I disagreed, because surely the opposite would also be true – if overweight people had skinny friends, aren’t they more likely to LOSE weight? I don’t think so.
So it seems that it’s the fashion industry that leads us to be too thin, while the friends we keep may make us fat! But where do personal responsibility and accountability factor in all of this?
Here’s another question – if the fashion industry is such a bad influence on us why are we a nation of overweight people! I don’t want to belittle eating disorders which are a major problem – but I would say the biggest problem America is facing at the moment isn’t that we’re too skinny – but that so many of us are just so darn big! (I know the study was conducted in the UK but they also have the same problems as the US when it comes to obesity)
To me it cuts both ways. I have often said that I was inspired by the covers of muscle magazines that were around my house as a kid and it’s obvious that I tried to emulate that look. However there’s one clear difference – the ‘look’ I was after was approached with healthy intentions. I mean I ate well and exercised and as a side benefit I improved my physique. So I guess it’s not a stretch to say that people would also try to model their own body after cover girls and swimsuit models. That said, I wouldn’t ever engage in unhealthy practices to achieve a particular body type. I think it takes a particular type of person to starve themselves and obsess over a ridiculously skinny body type. And I do believe that there are underlying issues associated with any eating disorder.
Personally I don’t see many fashion models in mainstream media who are ridiculously thin – it’s the extremes you see on the catwalks that seem to be the problem. But I’m not sure that greater regulation is really going to solve the issue. I actually think that part of the problem is that so many of us are overweight that even people of normal weight look too skinny. I think that many of us have lost sight of what a healthy weight really is.
Ultimately whether people are too big or too thin it all comes down to an ignorance of what real health and fitness are about. And that’s what I’m trying to do here at Angry Trainer Fitness every day – teach the truth about our bodies, our diets and our well-being.
But what do you think? Do you think anorexia is a social illness? Do you think regulating the fashion industry would help solve the problem? Comment away…
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