Nav: Home

A call to regulate starvation of 'Paris thin' models

December 21, 2015

Boston, MA -- Prohibiting runway models from participating in fashion shows or photo shoots if they are dangerously thin would go a long way toward preventing serious health problems among young women--including anorexia nervosa and death from starvation--according to experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In an editorial that will be published online December 21, 2015 in the American Journal of Public Health, S. Bryn Austin, director of the Harvard Chan School's Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED) and professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Katherine Record, also with STRIPED and an instructor in health policy and management, called for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set regulations that would prohibit the hiring of models below a given body mass index, such as BMI < 18.

The authors noted that the average runway model's BMI is typically below the World Health Organization's threshold for medically dangerous thinness for adults, BMI < 16. "Models have died of starvation-related complications, sometimes just after stepping off the runway," Austin and Record wrote.

International models are often referred to as "Paris thin" because France is so prominent in the fashion industry. But last April, the French National Assembly passed a law that would ban the hiring of excessively thin models.

While attempting to regulate the U.S. fashion industry would meet with resistance, the authors offered rebuttals to likely arguments that would arise. For instance, the industry might argue that BMI is an arbitrary metric. But, wrote Record and Austin, "given the prevalence of starvation in the modeling industry...and the health harms that models suffer as a consequence, BMI is a necessary indicator of being dangerously underweight. Indeed, when it comes to extremes, the deficiencies associated with BMI as a metric dwindle."

They noted that if the U.S. joins France in regulating the hiring of dangerously thin models, it "would shake the fashion industry, even if enforcement dollars were few and far between. Designers would be hard pressed to maintain a presence in the fashion industry without participating in the New York City and Paris Fashion Weeks."
-end-
Funding for the authors' work came from the Ellen Feldberg Gordon Challenge Fund for Eating Disorders Research and the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders. Austin is supported by training grants (T71-MC-00009 and T76-MC-00001) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Paris Thin": A Call to Regulate Life-Threatening Starvation of Runway Models in the US Fashion Industry," Katherine L. Record and S. Bryn Austin, American Journal of Public Health, online December 21, 2015, doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302950

Visit the Harvard Chan website for the latest news, press releases, and multimedia offerings.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people's lives--not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America's oldest professional training program in public health.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles:

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.
BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.
The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.
Bloomberg American Health Initiative releases special public health reports supplement
With US life expectancy now on the decline for two consecutive years, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative is releasing a supplement to Public Health Reports, the scholarly journal of the US Surgeon General.
Data does the heavy lifting: Encouraging new public health approaches to promote the health benefits of muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE)
According to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, almost 75 percent of US adults do not comply with public health guidelines recommending two or more muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE) sessions a week, with nearly 60 percent of the population doing no MSE at all.
The Lancet Public Health: Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health
Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.
Mass. public safety, public health agencies collaborate to address the opioid epidemic
A new study shows that public health and public safety agencies established local, collaborative programs in Massachusetts to connect overdose survivors and their personal networks with addiction treatment, harm reduction, and other community support services following a non-fatal overdose.
More Public Health News and Public Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.