A new study presented by the Guardian last week suggests that the government would be justified in changing the law around use of very skinny models. ‘Real model’ modelling agency Models Direct is unsurprised by the results…
A new study presented by the Guardian last week confirms that the government would be justified in changing the law around the promotion of very skinny models. ‘Real model‘ agency Models Direct was left unsurprised by the conclusions of this – first-ever – economic analysis of anorexia, which suggests the illness is ‘socially transmitted’ via cultural and social influences, and that images of very skinny models do increase the risk to those vulnerable to the disease.
Almost 3,000 young women were involved in the study, which was worked on by economist Dr Joan Costa-Font and Mireia Jofer-Bonet of the Centre for Economic Performance. Its findings appear to prove that exposure to pictures of very skinny models can cause distortion of body image and that some women are literally willing to starve themselves as a result of their ambitions to compete with the images that they see within the media. Dr Costa-Font said: “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.”
Just a month ago we were absolutely horrified by images of desperately skinny model Ioana Spangenberg, which were being promoted in various places as a positive thing despite fears that the model could be suffering from a psychological disorder. Should this be allowed? Who knows what the impact of this and other very skinny models could be on impressionable young women. We all remember the tragic death of model Ana Carolina Reston. This beautiful young model began her career at the age of 13 and died at just 21 having starved herself to death after a casting in China where comments that she was ‘too fat’ triggered anorexia.
Anorexia is most common in women between the ages of 15 – 34 and French women appear to be the most likely to suffer from this ‘primarily socially induced’ condition. It appears that agencies who promote very skinny models now have a clear responsibility to change their approach and some feel that the government should intervene to ensure that this happens.
The study concludes: “In the light of this study, government intervention to adjust individual biases in self-image would be justified to curb or at least prevent the spread of a potential epidemic of food disorders. 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 [which is] driving the trade-off between ideal weight and health.”
We hope that the emerging trend to use ‘real’ models in advertising will continue and that more agencies will, like us, help to ensure that those who decide to become a model do not receive pressure from their agencies to become an unhealthy weight.