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

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 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 __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:59PM (#39227161)

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

  • It's living art. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by earls ( 1367951 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:02PM (#39227187)

    The social manifestation of the persecution of beauty.

  • Re:It's True (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:03PM (#39227201) Homepage
    But the average person has the discretion to decide whether to listen to the advertising or not.
  • Actuarially, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:06PM (#39227227) Homepage Journal

    You know, the thing about insurance of groups, which is essentially a statistical undertaking, is that there are always outliers in both directions, and they are accounted for. There are insured people who never go to the doctor or need medical treatment. And there are insured people who go every time someone *else* sniffles. Over a large population, it'll balance out just fine.

    Whenever someone starts sniveling about the over-users, take a moment to remind them of me, someone who has been well insured for decades and hasn't *ever* made a health insurance claim -- I seem to have an immune system like a Sherman tank. So far, lol. 55 and counting, though, not too bad.

  • 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.

  • Re:It's True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:14PM (#39227343)

    Not really.
    Advertising is designed to exploit various characteristics of our brain that cause us to make unconscious decisions because of the advertising.

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:20PM (#39227421)

    Or they may be skinny because they couldn't afford health insurance and broke a limb in a mugging. Oh shoot, medical bills in the $12,000 region. I guess they can't afford to feed themselves anymore.

    Universal healthcare is not just the mark of a civilized society, it's cheaper than commercial healthcare, because you don't have to pay for all those claims adjusters and billing administrators.

    Nixon was opposed to the idea, by the way. He really liked the idea of HMOs though. []

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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)


  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:30PM (#39227507)

    Universal healthcare is not just the mark of a civilized society

    You're certainly entitled to your opinion.

    it's cheaper than commercial healthcare, because you don't have to pay for all those claims adjusters and billing administrators.

    Yes, in the same way that communism is the most efficient and beneficial of political systems: "in theory", and as long as you ignore how things actually work out every time it's tried in real life. Real world governments are neverending breeders of corruption and incompetence, and the more you strengthen them, the more incompetent they get. It's naive to expect otherwise.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:33PM (#39227549)

    Outliers in both directions, but in the present case, not to the same extent.

    The outliers in weight clearly favor the heavy side, and its a far tougher nut to crack that the anorexic who looked at a magazine. I suggest the researchers come up with a believable way to control the tendency towards overweight by changing pictures in a magazine. Then they would have something of true value.

    One could even make the case that removing the skinny side of normal from the cultural images may push the tendency towards acceptance of more obesity. This would have a far greater effect on health care costs than anorexia.

    One half of one percent [] of women go thru a period of anorexia. Of these only 5 – 10% die of their disorder within 10 years. Yet 35.7% of Americans suffer from obesity []. Medical costs for obesity on average were $1,429 higher per person per year.

    So the outliers aren't significant on the skinny side, but they are devastating on the fat side.

  • 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 sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:35PM (#39227573)
    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.
  • Re:It's True (Score:2, Insightful)

    by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:38PM (#39227597) Homepage


    The government can solve that problem by just banning junk foods.

    The government can solve all our societal problems by just passing new laws banning things. Remember when they outlawed harmful substances like cocaine and heroin, and now there are no more drug addicts? And how when they ban guns and knives and sharp sticks, people just miraculously stopped committing violence against each other?

    So, to that end, we should probably just ban anything that anyone thinks is even indirectly responsible for causing harm to others. Maybe we should just pre-emptively ban everything since anything can, in the wrong hands, certainly harm someone.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:41PM (#39227633)

    For example, they may be skinny because the government is spending on healthcare rather than spending on hunger.

    Ah, no. Just No.

    Anorexia is a mental illnesses, not a poverty issue.

    Poor people in the USA aren't wasting away from lack of food.
    The majority of them are too fat, because they can only afford cheap fattening foods, and filling a belly of a hungry child is more important than filling it with a weight conscious diet.

    This has NOTHING to do with Anorexia which hunger or poverty.

  • by CrackedButter ( 646746 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:41PM (#39227637) Homepage Journal

    Where I live that theory is a fact, even with commercial healthcare costing only $50 a month. I live in the UK, that figure is through BUPA. I probably pay $600 dollars roughly in National Insurance contributions. I just finished an MA and now work part time. I paid even less during Uni, did you?

    As to the second part of your post, the Scandinavians prove you wrong on the corruption front. Norway especially, is considered the least corrupted nation on the planet, followed closely by her neighbours and New Zealand.

    Give me more government I say (when it's good), lucky the majority of the best ones are in Europe or part of the Commonwealth.

  • by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:43PM (#39227659)

    Obesity is unrelated to eating disorders. People with eating disorders have an unrealistic ideas about body size and so they will starve themselves far beyond any healthy or attractive level of thinness. For these people wanting to be thin is indeed a problem.

  • This blows all the mods I've made, but the shear ignorance here is killing me. People need to get past their misogynist thinking that anorexia just means being lean.

    The reason curbing anorexia is a big deal is that it has "the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder" [] and it's a highly cultural phenomenon, extremely rare in societies before modern advertising. Even with treatment, the prognosis is death most of the time. This is an avoidable danger, like prohibiting the glorification of drugs in kids' shows.

    Really... How would regulating this be any different than banning steroids in professional sports?

  • by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:44PM (#39227679)
    The way I see it, all people are societies responsibility.
    You want to harp on someone because they are too skinny, too fat, have too many pits in their face, dont have a square jaw, arent up to your standards?
    Fine, but you get to pay for their psychotherapy, or alternate cause because therapy is not covered in our society.
    People wonder why school shootings, beatings, rapes, etc. keep happening to our children. But what they should do is look in the mirror and think back at all the harm they have caused. Words dont hurt? Perhaps not right away, but over time... your attitude adds up and costs society.
    If you dont reap what you sew, too bad. Society must be held accountable from now on for its own actions.
  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:48PM (#39227721)

    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.

    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.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:55PM (#39227795) Homepage Journal
    Frankly, considering that the majority of women I see are obese, often morbidly this really a problem with the skinny models?!?!

    No, men aren't off the line either...but from looking on a daily basis at typical people in the US any time I go out.....skinny models causing anorexia is NOT a problem....I can't remember the last time I saw anyone, particularly a chick that looked anywhere or any way too skinny....

    Hell, its hard to find anyone out there that looks anywhere close to 'fit'....

    I was that least I'm trying with better diet, proper portions...and yes...exercise.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @08:59PM (#39227835) Homepage Journal

    Yes, remind them of the guy that only needs catastrophic coverage

    No. Look, the only way you can KNOW you "only" need catastrophic coverage is on the day you die and you can sum up your ENTIRE medical history. And then it's too late. I *need* medical insurance because I *may* get ill. Just because I've not *been* ill, doesn't mean that I won't *get* ill. That's what insurance is: trading some wealth today against the possibility something goes awry tomorrow. People who only get catastrophic coverage don't understand probability. But overall, across the pool, there WILL be people who are very healthy overall. The problem the individual faces is that you can't know if that's you or not until it's too late.

    Look, we're all better off if the fewest number of people are sick and/or suffering. Just bite the bullet and admit it. Just as an educated populace moves society forward, just as a good road system benefits everyone, including those who don't drive on it, so does a healthy society benefit us all. It's one of those things that is really pretty obvious when you really think about it.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @09:03PM (#39227887) Journal

    Wait until we have real universal health care.. then the anorexics health becomes everyones business...

    It won't take that long. We've been told for decades by a certain segment of the population that womens' reproductive organs are "everyones business".

    And in the past few weeks, it appears that the way women can and cannot use their own health insurance is "everyones business".

    It doesn't have anything to do with "real universal health care". No, when it comes to making private stuff "everyones business" we've been well on the way for at least 30 years.

    Personally, I have a moral objection to my insurance premiums going to pay for the high blood pressure medicine and angioplasties and heart diseases and colon cancers of all the people who just have to have that second triple quarter-pounder with extra cheese and mega-sized french fries until they need a scooter get around Wal-Mart to buy their extra plus-size "Big and Tall" size 48 sweat pants (with "extra-full cut" to accommodate that third slab of flab that hangs down to their knees. But I promise to lay off those morbidly obese gluttons and even chip in a few bucks for their gargantuan medical bills if those disgustingly fat slobs just promise to let a woman's health stay between herself and her husband and her doctor and her insurance company and not call her a "slut" and a "prostitute" just because her doctor has responded to her desire not to have to get pregnant every time she has sex.

    I mean, goddamn, if my wife had to get pregnant every time we had sex, I'd be knee-deep in brilliant, talented, attractive kids and I'd have to work until I'm 90 just to pay for their grad school and all their advanced degrees. Though it would be kind of cool to be the father of multiple Nobel Prize winners, I have decided to settle for just the one.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @09:08PM (#39227939)

    Cigarette advertising is a good precedent - it's illegal on TV, radio and billboards in the US, and in may other media in other places. If a behaviour has been shown to be a serious public health hazard, and is encouraged by certain forms of media, that media has been banned in the past.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @09:09PM (#39227951)

    The way I see it, all people are societies responsibility.

    ..and thus, your health is everyones business.

    Smoker? Outlawed.
    Fatty foods? Outlawed.
    Skinny Models? Outlawed.

    The thing is that you will never see the end of the push for these laws because some people truly believe that individuals are societies responsibility. They only want to help. They are believers. You can't deter believers. Its for your own good.

  • by zooblethorpe ( 686757 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @09:11PM (#39227961) is still better than a government run system, as I at least have choices of carriers and coverage.

    Have you ever lived under a government-run healthcare system?

    I'm from the US, and I've lived in Japan for years at a stretch. In Virginia, Kaiser Permanente listened to my wife's explanation of her symptoms (chronic sinusitis, excessive post-nasal-drip, resulting digestive issues, among other issues) and decided that the trouble in her gut was actually evidence that she needed her ovaries removed. Um, no.

    In Tokyo, the local hospital (as part of the government-run healthcare system) listened to her symptoms, and then also to her lungs, and said "hey, you have light asthma -- here's how you manage it." Problems (mostly) solved.

    Just because a healthcare system is government run doesn't mean that it's necessarily bad. Just because a healthcare system is left to run on market dynamics and choices doesn't mean that it's necessarily better.

    FWIW, the opposite is also true -- we've also experienced crappy medical care in Japan, and good care in the US. Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to the quality of the doctors themselves.

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @09:38PM (#39228183)

    So, as a simple and immediate solution to this problem, we only need to send half of obese American women to Europe in exchange for thin European women.


  • by Dave Emami ( 237460 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @09:50PM (#39228267) Homepage

    Cigarette ads on radio and television are illegal in the US. That's a direct precedent.

    ... and one which should be overturned yesterday, as it's a crystal-clear violation of the First Amendment. To rephrase what I said previously, the fact that government has gotten away with something already is no excuse for letting them do more of it.

    If "it makes someone feel bad" is sufficient reason to infringe on peoples' freedoms, then what's next? Enact a law requiring high school athletes and cheerleaders to date the campus nerds?

    I think you've got some problems with your analogy there (but it's great rhetoric, hey?). The situation we're considering is one where some advertising is shown to promote behaviours that are a public health problem.

    With the exception of communicable disease or similar physical hazards -- things that can harm someone by contact or proximity -- there is no such thing as "public health." You're talking about something that people mentally react to, not a person spreading their typhoid germs around. Furthermore, "shown to promote behaviours" is just a fancier way of saying "make someone feel bad."

    So going with your analogy, try putting an ad that promotes beating up nerds on TV. Or one that shows nerds cutting themselves because they're social outcasts.

    If someone actually wants to do that, sure. That's their right. I stand with Voltaire on this issue. And I say that as a glasses-wearing program-writing member of the high-school wargamers (read: AD&D) club who was occasionally on the receiving end of unkind treatment by campus jocks and other nitwits.

  • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @10:33PM (#39228569)

    Several hundred thousand women in the United States suffer from anorexia and ~20% of them will die of anorexia-related symptoms. Being 30 pounds underweight is a lot worse than being 30 pounds overweight, or even 100 pounds overweight. Comprehensive anorexia treatment has rather low success rates and costs around $10k/month, and your health insurance premiums are funding it.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @11:41PM (#39228975) Homepage Journal

    A couple points: (1) the two countries have radically different climates, demographics, lifestyles, etc,

    That's not true. As David Himmelstein said, the differences between Boston and Toronto are less than the differences between Boston and Jackson, Mississippi.

    (2) many people would disagree that Canada has better healthcare than the USA.

    So what? They're wrong. The evidence says that the outcomes in Canada are at least as good. The costs are about half. That makes it better.

    And you know what's another thing that's funny? A lot of Canadians come to the USA for treatment.

    So what? The numbers are few. The Canadians have done studies to find out why. Most Canadians who go to the U.S. for health care have relatives in the U.S. that they want to stay with. For example, they will have a knee replacement or open heart surgery and stay with their children in Florida or New York while they're recovering.

    For that matter, a lot of Americans come to Canada to buy their medicine, and more Americans them would buy medicine by mail from Canada if our lobbyist-funded government allowed it.

    If Americans could get Canadian health care, at Canadian price, quality and service, it would be the most popular health care plan in the U.S.

  • by kick6 ( 1081615 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @11:53PM (#39229025) Homepage

    Several hundred thousand women in the United States suffer from anorexia and ~20% of them will die of anorexia-related symptoms. Being 30 pounds underweight is a lot worse than being 30 pounds overweight, or even 100 pounds overweight. Comprehensive anorexia treatment has rather low success rates and costs around $10k/month, and your health insurance premiums are funding it.

    Approximately 75 million women in the US are overweight. Which do you think is a bigger problem?

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:31AM (#39229149)

    Universal healthcare is not just the mark of a civilized society, it's cheaper than commercial healthcare, because you don't have to pay for all those claims adjusters and billing administrators.

    Actually they don't go away under the currently enacted-but-not-in-effect U.S. system. You are required to purchase insurance from an insurance company under the new system. The costs stay the same, or go up, since you can't opt out because of rising costs.

    The U.S. system as enacted is a universal coverage system, not a universal healthcare system. We already have a universal healthcare system, it's just hideously expensive when uninsured people utilize it at a hospital emergency room.

    The problems with the system that will be replacing the current system is that it's exactly the same as the current system in the most important respects:

    o. You pay an insurance company for health insurance
    o. The insurance company pays the doctor for your visit
    o. The doctor pays a portion of the money back to the insurance company for malpractice insurance
    o. The insurance company pays for use of equipment like MRI machines
    o. The company that manufactures the MRI machines pays a protion to the insurance company for liability insurance
    o. The hospital pays an inflated cost for the machines to cover the vendors liability insurance in the cost
    o. The hospital pays the insurance company for liability insurance related to the machine
    o. The hospital pays malpractice insure related to the machine ...looks like a Ponzi scheme to me. The only people who make out are the insurance companies, and they have incredible incentive to drive up costs at some multiplier of their desired margin. And that doesn't change under universal coverage.

    If they gave us single payer and tort reform, that would be one thing, but this isn't it.

    I'd really rather pay for food for someone than to line the pockets of an insurance company.

    -- Terry

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:58AM (#39229259) Homepage Journal

    Or on the flip side of the equation, as a brilliant young surgeon, would you stay in Canada with its government-capped doctor's salaries... Or "defect" to your neighbor to the South where you can make 10x as much without the hassle of having to treat the masses of unwashed poor as a form of government-imposed forced charity?

    I know a bit about that. I've talked to a lot of Canadian doctors, some of whom were good surgeons (the word "brilliant" is overused hype). Many of them went for training in the U.S. (just as many American doctors go for training in Canada).

    Most of the best surgeons do want to stay in Canada. They like the idea of being able to treat their patients according to need, not according to whether they can pay for it. They feel that they got a free education, and they like the idea of giving something back to their country. They feel like they're part of their community. They like being Canadians, because, as Canadians say, "we care about each other." They like the idea of practicing scientifically-based medicine, which is very strong in Canada. They like the idea of contributing to medical research, publishing in American and international journals, and reporting their results at international conferences, which they do a lot.

    When you talk about the "unwashed poor", you show that you really don't know what's going on. Canadian doctors (and most American doctors, for that matter) don't regard their patients as "unwashed poor." They regard them as people in need of care that they can help. Doctors often say that it is a "privilege" to practice medicine and help others.

    Your fundamental problem is your ideological belief in the free market. It doesn't work in health care. Doctors get a comfortable salary, and for most of them it's enough. Greedy doctors give bad medical care. Financial incentives give bad medical care.

  • by pthisis ( 27352 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:13AM (#39229499) Homepage Journal

    Several hundred thousand women in the United States suffer from anorexia and ~20% of them will die of anorexia-related symptoms. Being 30 pounds underweight is a lot worse than being 30 pounds overweight, or even 100 pounds overweight. Comprehensive anorexia treatment has rather low success rates and costs around $10k/month, and your health insurance premiums are funding it.

    This is an incredibly dangerous way to present this information. The numbers differ based on the source, but it's between hundreds and thousands of times as many women who die from obesity in the US as from anorexia, bulimia, nutritional deprivation, and other undernourishment conditions. Anorexia is much more of a trendy, popular place to focus attention, but if you're actually interested in saving women's lives you need to acknowledge the bigger (by several orders of magnitude) problem first.

  • by Garridan ( 597129 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:55AM (#39229653)
    Look to Canada, which has public health care.

    Smoker? Legal.
    Fatty foods? Legal.
    Skinny Models? Legal.


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