Australia Hates Skinny Women

Cynthia Dermody
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skinny model on catwalkThere is a real Clothing Police! Sort of. The Australian government plans to reward fashion magazines that ban overly skinny women and overly muscular men models from their covers to help citizens feel better about their bigger, less-perfect selves.

In addition to the covers, the guidelines would discourage fashion designers from hiring skeletal models for catwalks and plastic surgery ads from magazines, and would ask clothing manufacturers to stock a wider variety of sizes of clothing to fit all shapes and sizes.

I think everyone agrees magazines have gone too far with all their creepy airbrushing and anorexic cover girls. The question is, does this cross the line between church and state? Should a government be the clothing police?

I say no. While these guidelines aren't mandatory, just the suggestion carries a lot of weight. According to News.com in Australia, the criteria to earn the country's "seal of approval" would be:

  • Only use models aged 16 or older to model adult clothes -- both on catwalks and in print.
  • Refrain from using models who are very thin -- or male models who are excessively muscular.
  • Stocking clothing in a wide variety of sizes in shops to reflect the demand from customers.
  • Using a broad range of body shapes, sizes, and ethnicities in editorial and advertising.
  • Not promoting rapid weight loss, cosmetic surgery, excessive exercising, or any advertisements or editorial content that may promote a negative body image.
If this were being proposed in my country, I'd say yes to the sickly thin models, the variety of clothes sizes, and to the diversity ... but no way to the muscular men, cosmetic surgery, and weight loss ads. We've messed with the free market enough. And this proposal ventures a little too far into lifestyle choices for my taste.

If the government can dictate a model's body shape, why not the amount of cosmetics she wears too? Most cover girls wear too much makeup. It's unrealistic to assume I'll look that good if you let me loose with the eye shadow. We all look better in our natural states, without all that eye gunk and stage makeup, anyway. Nobody has lips that red in real life, and skin does not sparkle on its own. Surely that's giving women some kind of complex, too.

Should the American government have a say in how private industry portrays women in the media?

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