Too Rich or Too Thin
France is considering a law that would ban the promotion of "excessive thinness" -- and L.A. Times reporter Geraldine Baum was on the scene in Paris to find out what that might mean for the "pro-ana" websites and fashion-related advertising that the bill's sponsors would like to eliminate.
As your favorite law prof discussed with Geraldine (alas, via long-distance call rather than a trip to the City of Light), addressing eating disorders is an important and laudable goal. After the death in 2006 of a young Brazilian model, Ana Carolina Reston, fashion week organizers in several major markets adopted minimum BMI requirements for the runway, and others expressed concern about the issue. The proposed French law would be largely unenforceable -- but it would make a strong public statement.
In the U.S., such legislation would very likely run afoul of First Amendment free speech protections. Unless and until science establishes a direct connection between fashion photos and eating disorders, the law can't stop individuals from advocating skeletal standards of beauty. The government, the fashion industry, and the mainstream media can, however, encourage girls to reject starvation chic.
You, too, can make a difference. Just a few Euros per week will buy this young woman a baguette. And not the Fendi variety.
P.S. Seriously concerned about your health or that of a friend? Click here for a helpline and more information.