Who’ll stand up for skinny people?

The FT notes in its diary today that Madrid’s “local government has decided spectacles of emaciation are bad for public health and banned ultra-skinny models from appearing in the city’s annual fashion bonanza, which starts next week. Any model with a body mass index of less than 18 – a score of 18.5 is technically ...

607132_skinny_model5.jpg
607132_skinny_model5.jpg

The FT notes in its diary today that Madrid's "local government has decided spectacles of emaciation are bad for public health and banned ultra-skinny models from appearing in the city's annual fashion bonanza, which starts next week. Any model with a body mass index of less than 18 – a score of 18.5 is technically underweight – will not be welcome." Reuters reports that this edict will bar 30 percent of last year's participants from the show.

I'm all for encouraging good body image and healthy eating. But I'm baffled as to how it can be legal to discriminate—and explicitly at that—on the basis of weight and height. The Madrid restrictions are also phenomenally draconian. They'll be enforced by on-the-spot weigh-ins. It isn't just those who starve themselves who will be refused, but also a considerable group of people who are just naturally thin. (BMI tables are available here.)

If the authorities in Madrid are really concerned about weight and public health, then shouldn't they be trying to deal with the fact that the obesity rate in Spain has increased from 6.8 percent in 1985 to 13.1 percent in 2003 and more than 35 percent of Spaniards are overweight? 

The FT notes in its diary today that Madrid’s “local government has decided spectacles of emaciation are bad for public health and banned ultra-skinny models from appearing in the city’s annual fashion bonanza, which starts next week. Any model with a body mass index of less than 18 – a score of 18.5 is technically underweight – will not be welcome.” Reuters reports that this edict will bar 30 percent of last year’s participants from the show.

I’m all for encouraging good body image and healthy eating. But I’m baffled as to how it can be legal to discriminate—and explicitly at that—on the basis of weight and height. The Madrid restrictions are also phenomenally draconian. They’ll be enforced by on-the-spot weigh-ins. It isn’t just those who starve themselves who will be refused, but also a considerable group of people who are just naturally thin. (BMI tables are available here.)

If the authorities in Madrid are really concerned about weight and public health, then shouldn’t they be trying to deal with the fact that the obesity rate in Spain has increased from 6.8 percent in 1985 to 13.1 percent in 2003 and more than 35 percent of Spaniards are overweight? 

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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