Prohibiting runway models from participating in fashion shows or photo shoots if they are dangerously thin would go a long way toward preventing serious health problems among young women—including anorexia nervosa and death from starvation—according to experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
In an editorial that will be published online December 21, 2015 in the American Journal of Public Health, S. Bryn Austin, director of the Harvard Chan School’s Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED) and professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Katherine Record, also with STRIPED and an instructor in health policy and management, called for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set regulations that would prohibit the hiring of models below a given body mass index, such as BMI < 18.
The authors noted that the average runway model’s BMI is typically below the World Health Organization’s threshold for medically dangerous thinness for adults, BMI < 16. “Models have died of starvation-related complications, sometimes just after stepping off the runway,” Austin and Record wrote.
International models are often referred to as “Paris thin” because France is so prominent in the fashion industry. But last April, the French National Assembly passed a law that would ban the hiring of excessively thin models.