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How the Fashion Industry Is Killing Women

The pressure on models to be thin—and the resultant pressure on girls, boys, women and men to conform to an unattainable ideal—is immense.

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Direct government regulation is another option. Fashion images do not cause eating disorders or other health conditions, in the same way that cigarette ads do not cause lung cancer nor liquor ads cause alcoholism. Nevertheless, governments have deemed their influence detrimental enough to public health to merit regulation. In the United Kingdom, Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that warning symbols be placed on airbrushed images of models alerting viewers to their deceptiveness. And in 2007, Bronx Assemblyman José Rivera proposed legislation that would create a state advisory board to establish standards for the employment of models under the age of 18, in part to help prevent the development of eating disorders.

Until government acts—an unlikely prospect in the laissez-faire United States—America’s fashion industry ought to act to quell our dangerous obsession with thinness, or acknowledge its central role in perpetuating it.

Libby Rodenbough, a writer and musician, was a winter 2011 In These Times editorial intern. She is moving to Ireland to "study folk music" in Irish pubs.

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