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Government Should Ban Skinny Models To Curb Anorexia, Say Researchers 676

Posted by timothy
from the too-fat-for-me dept.
smoothjazz writes "Governments are justified to prevent very skinny models from walking the catwalk and ban photographs and advertisements suggesting that extreme thinness is attractive, according to a group of researchers who found that social and cultural environment influences on young women is largely responsible for the spread of chronic eating disorder."
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Government Should Ban Skinny Models To Curb Anorexia, Say Researchers

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  • by sideslash (1865434) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:54PM (#39227095)
    Oh wait, researchers have freedom of speech. Come to think of it, so do marketing firms.
    • ...it's for the children (who are inadequately parented)!!!

      So there are going to be a lot of people who will throw everyone and everything else under the bus.

      • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:07PM (#39227251)

        Okay.

        I've got an eight-year-old girl. Every day I tell her that she's smart and strong and brave and beautiful, and that I love her, and that I'm proud of her. We've told her how they use computers to make models look different than in real life. (The Fotoshop by Adobé ad is great)

        Yet for all the work we do to tell her how incredible and awesome she is, there's a constant barrage of ads screaming that she's ugly and dumb and girls are wimpy.

        • by JSG (82708) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:29PM (#39227493) Homepage

          ... so who is winning?

          You say what you do and you say what ads do but no conclusion unless we have to take the last phrase of your comment as you feel that's what she thinks.

          I feel your pain but apparently parents have been worried for millennia about external influences on their children. If ads is the worst you've got then that's perhaps not too bad. You might like to compare your worries with parents in say the Syrian city of Homs.

          Wait until she's around 12-15. You'll really have worries then as she becomes rapidly more sophisticated and "teen" ...

          Best of luck (OK - enjoy every moment, even when you are shitting yourself with worry)

          Cheers
          Jon

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by icebike (68054) *

          Yet for all the work we do to tell her how incredible and awesome she is, there's a constant barrage of ads screaming that she's ugly and dumb and girls are wimpy.

          Really?
          Seems you must have an entirely different source of advertising than I see.
          The tendency over the last 10 years is to portray men and boys as idiots who can't figure out which end of a hammer to pound with, and are utterly helpless in taking care of themselves, while the 75 pound girl can throw two them over her shoulder and carry them up two flights of stairs.

          All these ads these days seem to be written by and for women. The same is true of most tv shows.

        • Sounds to me like she'll be fine. If she's getting the kind of validation from you that you say she is, she won't look for it elsewhere. If you're really that worried about it, though, why not just get rid of the TV?

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:25PM (#39227461)

      Freedom of speech is limited in all kinds of ways. False advertising for example. Or making health claims. Controls on what you can and can't do in ads aren't new.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sideslash (1865434)
        OK, but saying that slender is beautiful is not false advertising, because beauty is inherently a subjective judgment. Thus it falls under free speech. To disallow that kind of free speech you'd have to find that it was somehow horribly harming people. That would be a difficult case to make, and probably even with that you still couldn't censor it. You'd have to settle for some kind of Surgeon General warning labels, like with cigarettes.
      • Freedom of speech is limited in all kinds of ways.

        You are, unfortunately, correct. That's no excuse for imposing more limits, however.

        False advertising for example. Or making health claims. Controls on what you can and can't do in ads aren't new.

        Laws against false advertising are really just taking laws against fraud and moving them to a prior step in the process. If I sell you quartz crystals by convincing you that they cure cancer, that's fraud, and is rightfully illegal. Airing commercials that say "buy our quartz crystals, they cure cancer" is pretty clearly an extension of the sales process. If I just say "quartz crystals cure cancer", without trying to sell yo

    • by taxman_10m (41083)

      Yes, but is marketing speech harmless? Marketing is done to influence people's behavior. It's successful and makes marketing firms lots of money. Certainly these marketing firms will take credit for selling 12% more jeans this quarter or whatever. But what about the negative consequences that result from this marketing? Will they take credit for that? Should they? Can we at least say that these marketing firms are morally culpable when they influence people in a negative way?

      • by uncqual (836337) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:09AM (#39229287)
        Is any form of free speech harmless?

        Religious free speech harms many by advocating positions that cause people to not act in their best interests. This includes such activities as PRAYING for something to help them rather than spending that time DOING something to help themselves (esp. when they do something like eschew doctors and rely on religion to cure their cancer resulting in their unnecessary early demise and possibly significantly more pain in their final days than necessary).

        Or should political speech encouraging or protesting gun control (each side claims the outcome the other side promotes harms people) be banned?

        Should people be banned from such religious or political speech or required to somehow "take credit" (i.e., pay for the damage they cause - as anything else isn't really "taking credit" if they continue to spout such nonsense).

        The fact it causes "harm" just isn't sufficient reason to ban speech IMHO.
  • It's True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crow_t_robot (528562) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:56PM (#39227119)
    Banning skinny models definitely would help fix the problem. I'm normally against such type of regulation but when the common person is blasted in the face by constant advertising in every form imaginable 24/7 then i tend to fall on the side of regulation.

    It's not like the average person can moderate the amount of advertising that rapes their eyeballs and subconcious every day.
    • Re:It's True (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shavano (2541114) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:59PM (#39227161)

      Yet most of us are fat. Anybody else see a contradiction?

      • Re:It's True (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:23PM (#39227451)

        No, not really.

        Although scientists whose area of expertise is in this area would have to show real data either confirming my gut feeling or disproving it (and I'll then blame the fish I had earlier)., I would guess that...

        When you're young and you're exposed to the imagery of 'ideals' you might try to actually reach those ideals. However, if you fail - and most of us do; even if you do make it to the ideal, a month later you may have bounced right back up and then some - that may make you sad at best and downright depressed at worst.

        The sadness/depression is, in turn, fought using - among other - comfort foods (It's no coincidence that a lot of people think that eating a bucket of ice cream is a great way to do away with the blues).

        But eating comfort foods is rarely health and in fact is likely to lead you to further weight gain.. which depresses you more, etc.

        At some point, though, you stop really caring. You've realized that you are overweight, and that while you have fleeting moments of wanting to do something about it, there's no real pressure to do so any more as you are now one of the millions of overweight adults who are accepted just fine by society as long as you don't go overboard in obesity (at which point you might become the subject of internet ridicule for a day, after which life goes on).
        In fact, once you reach that point, you realize that the superskinny are far more often pointed out in a negative way than the overweight (think Angelina Jolie).

        As such, if these distorted 'ideals' can be kept away from kids, then perhaps that would effect change. However, I don't think legislation is the answer. How would you actually legislate this anyway? The change has to come from within the fashion/magazine industry itself.

        However, as some in that industry have already suggested that Kate Upton (google, judge for yourself) is too 'curvy' (read: fat) for magazine covers, I doubt that change is coming anytime soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bhagwad (1426855)
      But the average person has the discretion to decide whether to listen to the advertising or not.
    • by Idbar (1034346)
      What needs to be done is educating that correlation is not causation and that cause and effect are different.

      "You're thin because you exercise and you are healthy therefore attractive" is way different from just "you are thin therefore attractive".

      The main problem in the youth, is that they think they need to be thin to be attractive, and leave out the healthy out of the equation, because eating well and exercising is more trouble and you can cheat by just falling into eating disorders.

      I agree with n
    • by afabbro (33948)

      It's not like the average person can moderate the amount of advertising that rapes their eyeballs and subconcious every day.

      Nonsense. Don't watch TV. Don't listen to the radio. Use Adblock Plus. I'm assuming your eyes gloss pass magazine ads automatically.

      Seems pretty moderated to me.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:29PM (#39227497)

      My wife is anorexic. She's stable, and she's become a successful practicing MD. Understanding the problem doesn't cure it.

      She grew up in a home with two half-sisters under a frequently single mother who went through many marriages. Her (now also anorexic) mother has career success, ridiculously low self esteem, and she married at least two physically abusive men. The worst of them was a churchgoing man who physically abused all his daughters/stepdaughters and repeatedly raped his own daughter (thankfully my wife did not endure that). He hid it from his wife/my mother-in-law and everyone else (except the girls) for several years. When my mother-in-law finally understood it was happening, she divorced him as soon as she felt she could without physical abuse as a repercussion. I don't think that was right away. And because of fear, he was never reported or punished. I don't think he even quit attending church.

      My wife had no control of her life in her childhood. She could control her appearance. She became anorexic to give fulfill her need for a sense of control in her life.

      Banning the ads would help reduce the draw of that manifestation of the need for control. But the root problem is very commonly associated with domestic abuse and/or unhealthy childhoods like the one my wife grew up in.

    • What utter bullshit. You CAN regulate all of those ads. You know how? Turn off the damned TV. Install an adblocker in your browser. There, you just eliminated the bulk of that crap raping your eyeballs and subconscious, and you're probably intaking less general crap in the first place. Let's restrict freedom of speech because what someone says/does might inadvertently have a negative impact on someone else who can't practice some goddamned self-discipline. Sounds like a great idea. Nice slippery slope you'
    • The purpose of government is not to cure every evil in society.

      Commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment, and the proposed regulation would almost certainly be struck down.

      What exactly what would be the text of this proposed regulation?

      "Whoever publishes an image of a woman having a body mass index below 0.66 shall be fined $X.XX."

      Please, someone in favor of this crap draft up a law that is not vague, over-broad, and just plain laughably ridiculous.

    • by sdguero (1112795)
      Yeah totally. Freedom of speech should be thrown under the bus because a small minority of women don't have the mental fortitude to tell whether or not they are eating healthy. That makes sense...
  • by telekon (185072) <canweriotnow.gmail@com> on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:00PM (#39227165) Homepage Journal

    Fat models, skinny controllers, dumb views...

    Oh, wait, are we not talking about code all of a sudden? Okay, in that case, dumb, skinny models, and no fat chicks.

    In fact, forget I was here.

  • Music (Score:5, Insightful)

    by internettoughguy (1478741) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:10PM (#39227289)

    The problem is not that these body images are harmful, but that girls are trained to think that their appearance is their most important attribute.

    This is not improving, this shallow culture is being promoted to men and boys as well, perhaps in order to stave off charges of sexism, but more likely it's just a realisation within these cosmetic and fashion industries that they are missing out on a potential market.

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      The problem is not that these body images are harmful, but that girls are trained to think that their appearance is their most important attribute.

      It's probably true, but it's also men's fault, because most of them are only attracted by women's appearance.

      The real problem is that we tend to focus only on external attributes, because it's easy to change them if you have money.
      It reminds me of somebody who said that 50 years ago, people tended to focus on attitudes (internal behaviour), and now, people tend to focus on easy ways to influence people (external behaviour).
      External improvement has a much better return on investment than internal improvement

  • by pz (113803) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:15PM (#39227361) Journal

    Why is this article here?

    Does it include neato new technology?

    Does it review some new CPU or video card?

    Does it discuss a new or old computer game?

    Does it include high-energy physics or cosmology?

    Does it include something about programming languages?

    Does it include cryptography or security breaches?

    Does it include anything at all about computers?

    Hell, does it talk about Bitcoin?

    Might as well just post scans from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue that's out right now.

  • by cfalcon (779563) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:21PM (#39227439)

    While I'm trivially opposed to legislation like this, I will point out that imagery doesn't really change what men want in a woman- that's coded deep or something- but it DOES change what WOMEN try to look like to compete with each other. Most men don't prefer the super skinny models. It's fashion designers who force that on us, and I think it's fair to point out that most men don't follow such fashion. I think everyone knows that a glamour model can be super hot, and a fashion model is... not. And of course, glamour models, while still often at a level of thinness that would be unachievable for all women, have genuinely feminine shapes to them, and are not some concentration camp throw-away.

    Anyway, I don't dispute the findings of the researchers, merely the morality of attacking speech.

  • Are they serious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pclminion (145572) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:34PM (#39227553)
    Let's restrict freedom of speech in order to solve social problems. Sure buddy, whatever. If we're going to do that, let's start with a few other things first, such as Fred Phelps and the KKK. Any American who thinks this is a good idea, please step out back and shoot yourself, thanks.
  • by PJ6 (1151747) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:45PM (#39227685)
    It's not like people would stop buying stuff they need.
  • by PJ6 (1151747) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:56PM (#39227803)
    Skinny is fashionable now for the same reason being heavy was hundreds of years ago.

    Fat is the opposite of attractive now because it's unhealthy. You don't pick an obese woman to marry these days because you don't want to find her dead at 45.

    This problem of glorifying anorexia will go away when we solve the obesity epidemic.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Absolutely everything you said is complete nonsense...

      Skinny is fashionable now for the same reason being heavy was hundreds of years ago.

      No. Fat was an indicator of weath... like a luxury/sports car. It was never actually considered attractive.

      Fat is the opposite of attractive now because it's unhealthy. You don't pick an obese woman to marry these days because you don't want to find her dead at 45.

      That's not why at all. Attractiveness is tied to ideal body ratios, and other biological indicators of f

      • In certain societies and time periods there is evidence that "plump"(not morbidly obese, but probably what today would be classified in the lower echelons of what is now classified as "overweight") women were considered attractive. Probably because they were more fertile and/or more likely to deliver a healthy baby, esp. if food became scarce, not an uncommon event.
  • Why not take a step back and say, "Why do these women want to be like these models?". They want the popularity and ego satisfaction that goes along with looking like those models. The fact that their self-worth is based on the opinions of other anonymous people is the problem. It's their parents' job to redirect them to base their self-worth on more objective criteria. In other words the researchers have cause and effect backwards. These women already have low self-worth and think looking like anorexic models will make them better because people with low self-worth always think being popular makes them better. The fact that it's anorexic models is arbitrary. In other places and times it was Rubenesque models. It's a moral problem and as usual people want to find a short-cut to dealing with moral struggle by imposing censorship. Censorship doesn't solve the problem. It just forces the issue to manifest in another way.This research is worthless. Actual it's even worse than that. It's positively harmful.

    P.S. You also see the inverse, being anti-popular (i.e. pick your "counter-culture" movement of choice) is seen as giving self-worth. It's all the same. The point is to make being popularity irrelevant to self-worth.

  • Keira Knightley (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @09:30AM (#39230581) Journal

    Keira Knightley is the actress from the Pirates of the Caribean with rather small breasts. For another role, there exists a rather famous comparison picture in which her breasts are photoshopped to be a couple of sizes bigger. It was done against her will, she agreed to some touching up but not to go from A to C.

    Is she pretty? Your tastes might differ but a lot of people would say yes...

    So... does this stop all the girls out there from worrying their tits are to small? Hell no. For that matter, most super models got modest chest sizes. Does that stop girls from worrying? No. So WHAT image from the media is telling girls that they need to have big tits? Not a famous movie star, not super models.

    Yet the claim stands that thin fashion models influence how girls view their body but not the breast part? No, it is a load of bull.

    Some people feel insecure about their image, they then find anything out there to justify themselves in feeling bad about it. For a rather extreme and dangerous example, how many black people claim they are kept down by discrimination when the most powerful man on the planet right now is black? Somehow the fact Obama got elected president of the US does not factor into the claim of racism.

    Mind you, things are never black and white, there is racism and the media and society put a lot of expectations on how people should be. This isn't just looks, many a person keeps looking for the magical love where violins suddenly start playing. I have met people who really thought that when they became adults, there lifes would be like that in Friends and other sitcoms, sitting around all day drinking coffee with the occasional visit to work if it suited them. Reality? You want to be able to afford even a single coffee, you work so hard that all you want to do in the evening is sleep.

    Does this matter? I don't know if the term loverboy is universally known but these are men who seduce young girls with money and a flash lifestype and then get them into prostitution. The girls affected really believe the movie lifestype. "He always got money" and "He always was ready to have a good time" never makes them question how the two combine. It doesn't matter in sitcoms so why should it in real life that a guy with no job has plenty of girls and all the free time in the world and a lot of spare cash?

    People who aren't to smart use the media to justify their insecurities, neuroses and world views, and ignore the bits of media that don't match. Porn girls have big tits so big tits are the norm and all the porn with small tits, every single super model don't exist. In comedy, fat ugly women often have attractive wives... of course the BBC series Miranda doesn't count where a very tall and none to skinny rather plain woman has not one but TWO hunky guys interested in her. And gosh, she NEVER goes after men who are overweight or plain looking or, horror of horror, to short.

    Media isn't realistic. Or rather it is but we tend to look only at the bits that offend us. Porn is young girls ignoring all the granny and MILF porn. Super stars have big tits except for the ones who don't.

    If we start to censor the media to be realistic... then what about those of us who are naturally skinny? Who are just plain good looking? Should they be subjected to a media showing that only ugly people can be happy?

    Silly? It isn't the fat chicks or plain looking ones who tend to suffer from insecurity, it is the pretty girls. After all, the fat chick might not get a lot of boys after her but the one who does is probably really interested in her, the person. Where as the pretty girl only gets the guys after her who see her as a trophy and the ordinary guys do not approach her. Being pretty is no guarantee for happiness. See the lives of many a movie actress ending in misery.

    There are a lot of things wrong with ads but the biggest is that so many people take them to serious and lack the capacity to look further then their own insecurity at the real world. Believe on pretty people ca

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