Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Model Libertarian

Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason is concerned about France's modeling regulations.
Models who don't meet certain government-imposed weight requirements have been banned from French runways and advertisements, under a new law approved by the French parliament Friday. Modeling agencies and others who employ these models could be fined €75,000 or face six months in prison.
In other words, French law now requires employers to discriminate based on body type.

Ms. Brown is already demonstrating a McArdlesque repulsion towards compulsion. Nobody can tell me what to do ever! She also shows a keen insight into the psychology of her audience by aiming her post straight at the adolescent id. Last but not least, she too is eager to share private information with the public to make herself part of the story, the Dagny Taggart in a land of Lillian Reardons.
The rule relies on body mass index (BMI)—a number calculated using a person's weight and height—to determine who is too skinny for the catwalk. Anyone with a BMI under 18 is banned. Health minister Marisol Touraine said the move is part of the country's efforts to stop people from developing eating disorders.  
Most of the media has been reporting on the law as a ban on "anorexic" or "ultra-thin" models. But that's a bit of a stretch. While BMI can be useful as a broad guideline for healthy weight/height ratios, it's far from a definitive indicator of fitness or health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for instance, describes BMI as "a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people" (emphasis mine). Many perfectly fit and visually slim people complain that their BMI places them in the "obese" category, which tends to happen when people are more muscular. Anyone with a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.  
And anyone with a BMI under 18 is considered "underweight." But like the obesity threshold, many people who fall in this "underweight" category both appear and are healthy. I'm one of them. At 5'6", I tend to weigh between 110 and 115 pounds. At the high end, I am considered to have a healthy and "normal" BMI. Lose four pounds and I'd be banned from modeling in France. And I am hardly what anyone would consider worryingly thin.
Oddly enough you can google "5'6" 115 lbs" and a lot of pictures of extremely thin young women (a few of them topless) will show up. Losing four pounds when you have virtually no body fat is no small thing. Now I am concerned about Ms. Brown's body image. Is that why she was drawn to this story?
This wouldn't just be just a ban on "anorexic" models but a whole lot of healthy women, women who would have to be actively unhealthy to meet the government's weight standard. [Meanwhile, of course, anyone in France who wants to access images of ultra-thin or anorexic models could certainly still do so all over the Internet.]
Everybody else is doing it.
The measure would also require re-touched photographs used in advertisements to carry a message saying the image was altered and make it illegal to condone "excessive thinness." Any operator of a website "encouraging eating restrictions for a prolonged period of time" would face up to a year in prison and fines of up to €100,000.
Yes, as Ms. Brown says, the last thing we want to do is make modeling restrictive based on weight and body type.

Ms. Brown is a peach.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a staff editor for, where she covers issues related to reproductive rights, gender, free speech, food policy, millennials, sex work, and criminal justice. 
Brown was previously an editor and blogger with Defy Media and AARP publications, and her writing has also appeared places such as TimeThe Week, Newsweek, Fox News, and The Dish. She has been a guest on Fox Business's Opening Bell and Stossel and BBC World Service's "Business Matters." 
Brown has an M.A. in strategic communication from American University, a B.F.A in theater from Ohio University, and a certificate in nutrition from Cornell. She's from Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

 I tried to find more articles about her food policy but almost all I found were posts on sex-trafficking, rape, porn, abortion, and the perfidy of feminists.


Downpuppy said...

Not that it's the major issue, but the chance that ENB is lying about her height & weight is pretty much 100%. Teenage girl cross country runners aren't that skinny. - Also, Jimmy Kimmel field tested -

Kathy said...

Since France is one of the world's leaders in fashion, it makes perfect sense that the government would impose a few regulations about unrealistic body types. Very few women look like prepubescent boys, and yet looking like a starving boy is being set as the fashion.

bulbul said...

Can anyone check if she raised the same objections when about two years ago Israel implemented an equivalent measure?

Susan of Texas said...

I looked briefly and couldn't find one.

If she has a body image problem and has a knee-jerk reaction to attacks on anorexics it could be that she is lying and doesn't even realize it.

Andrew W. said...

"repulsion towards compulsion"

I dunno, they seem to have no problem with compulsion when it arises via "market forces" (which, of course, are controlled and shaped by the preferences of the hallowed powerful).