Viewpoint: Accept healthier body types, ban thinspiration

1/17/15 Magic School Bus WildartAs society debates issues like the false portrayal of body image, France made a strong declaration of its stance by outlawing any websites that promote “thinspiration.”

The ban on “pro-ana” sites — websites promoting anorexia — will include fines up to 10,000 Euros, $10,832.50, and up to a year in prison in an effort to hinder “excessive thinness.”

Countries like Italy, Spain and Israel have already begun their efforts against unhealthy body standards by banning models that have been deemed “too thin” from the runway. Reasons for the ban include preventing the spread of damaging eating habits to impressionable minds, according to Reuters.

Although France will ultimately decide upon that type of legislation later this week, it did pass a law preventing fashion institutions from hiring emaciated models.

The French National Assembly said more than 30,000 citizens of France were anorexic and 90 percent of that number was women; however, the report the Assembly pulled the information from was published in 2008, when the country previously tried to prevent body-damaging websites. There was no mention of whether these numbers remained accurate.

Marisol Touraine, France’s health minister, told the French press, “It’s important for fashion models to say that they need to eat well and take care of their health, especially for young women who look up to the models as an aesthetic ideal.”

In America, we also face these same images daily. From standing in line at the grocery store  to ads on the side of our favorite sites, we view these “shopped” photos and often do not give a second thought to the time that went into perfecting them.

Many popular celebrities have spoken against the over-Photoshopped nature of their photos and have even prohibited their photos from being dramatically retouched. Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet said, “I don’t look like that, and more importantly, I don’t desire to look like that,” following GQ’s excessive use of Photoshop on her legs.

A study published by Media Education found that the “body image shown in ads represented only 5 percent of the body types American women actually had.”

The same publisher also reported that women in ads often have their hands placed over their mouths, unlike their male counterparts. The undertones of this pose leave the remark that woman should be scrutinized strictly on what we see of their bodies — their voice and point of view is irrelevant.

When taking in these messages alongside a culture of anorexia, young women begin to see themselves as inferior and may resort to drastic steps to measure up to what they see in the media.

In an episode of the Emmy-award winning show “30 Rock,” writers addressed body image when Alec Baldwin’s character tells one of the women who had gained weight that she needs to gain more weight or lose it all — “there is no middle in television.”

As society begins to accept healthier body shapes, we will hopefully begin to see that middle in television and all media.

Amanda Yarger is a senior journalism major from Corpus Christi. She is a reporter and regular columnist for the Lariat.