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France and the Super-Thin Body Image

Posted Aug 24 2008 5:53pm

Yesterday's news had two interesting articles about body image in France. As my regular readers know, I have been working 50% of my time in France and 50% at home in the United States. While working in France, I have noticed how extremely thin the average French person is and how being overweight comes with far greater stigma than at home.



The first article describes how the French government is trying to pass a new law to punish those people or organizations that help to propagate unhealthy body images, .i.e. encouraging anorexia ( Telegraph.co.uk ). And, the second is that top organizations representing the French fashion industry and media outlets have signed a "charter of good conduct" about the use of top model body images to stave off growing concerns about anorexia ( ABC news ).



The new law:



The draft law, to be debated next week, proposes up to three years in jail and a ... fine if the incitement provoked the death of an anorexia sufferer. Incitement alone would carry two years in jail.



While not seeking to target bona fide dieting, the law would punish any encouragement to make "people deprive themselves of food in order to get excessively thin", or that constituted an "open apology of anorexia".



The fashion industry & Media "Charter of Good Conduct":



The signers pledge "not to accept using pictures of people, in particular youth, which could contribute to [or] promote a model of extreme thinness." Those who signed the charter commit to "heighten public awareness about the acceptance of physical diversity.




While I do encourage achieving a healthy weight, I am often flabbergasted by overly thin people starving themselves to get thinner. Anorexia is a real problem. I suggest that my readers calculate their body fat percentage and only diet if they are within or above a healthy range for their gender. Instructions for calculating percentage of body fat can be found here:



http://lowcarbohydrate.blogspot.com/2007/01/calculating-percent-body-fat.html



Regardless of the health implications of the above articles, I am very pleased to see the fashion industry and media moving away from the typical over-thin standard for models. To me, most female supermodels look bony and unattractive. I like women with nice curves and who are at least a little soft to the touch. And, I sincerely hope that both the French legislation and the "charter of good conduct" successfully change our global society sees as beautiful.
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