Heroin chic was a big trend in the 90s which shocked and appalled many due to it using super skinny models and because it “offered thinly veiled references to drug use and glamorized unhealthy lifestyles” (Kismaric and Respini 2008, 39). Whilst the trend of heroin chic may have passed, the trend of super skinny models has not.

Essentially in every fashion show and magazine you will see only skinny women. This has outraged many who claim it to be an unhealthy body image to present to people and the ideas of laws being put forward to ban these super skinny models have been called for. With the rise of the body positive movements a slew of “plus” sized models have emerged. The “plus” sized models are meant to represent the “average” woman and encourage a healthy body image. There has been some contention regarding the definition of “plus size” as well as the definition of  the “average” woman.

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Some plus size models that have emerged have been incredibly overweight. There has been a similar outcry about these models as there has been about incredibly thin models. Some people have claimed being so heavy is unhealthy and is just as bad a body image to portray as super skinny models. Are incredibly overweight models just as bad as super skinny ones?

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In December 2015 France banned super skinny models from working, demanding that models will need a doctor’s certificate to prove that they are healthy. Recently Facebook banned an advertisement featuring a plus size model, claiming her body type was unhealthy and did not fit their ‘health and fitness’ guidelines. There was an uproar and these images were eventually allowed to be shown. Is there any difference between advertisements of overweight women being banned compared to underweight ones?

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Many people have stated they don’t think either should be banned as there are many naturally skinny and naturally larger women and that the media should stop policing women’s bodies. Size acceptance has also been brought up as a reason why plus size models should gain prevalence. An argument has been put forward that even though the vast majority of models in mainstream advertising are thin, over 63% of Australian adults are overweight or obese. It is argued that this proves the size of the model chosen in an advertisement has little to no influence on the mainstream public in terms of health. Should guidelines be put in place to encourage a healthy body image or should the fashion industry be free to promote whatever body image they want?

References:

Kismaric, Susan and Respini, Eva. 2008. Fashioning fiction in photograph since 1990. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2016. “Overweight and Obesity”. Accessed 21 August. http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/.

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