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The Hazards of Hyping Super Thin

The Hazards of Hyping Super Thin

A woman walks into a doctor’s office with a carrot in her left ear, a stalk of celery in her right and an asparagus spear in each nostril. “Doc, what’s wrong with me?”

“Well, obviously,” replies the doctor, “you’re not eating properly.”

But seriously, the hazards of not eating properly are no joke. You know how dangerous excess weight can be (70 percent of you deal with it), but it’s equally risky to be too thin because of an eating disorder.

Around the globe, that is finally getting recognized. The French joined Italy, Spain and Israel in banning excessively thin runway models. The reason? Besides the fact that, according to an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health, “models have died of starvation-related complications, sometimes just after stepping off the runway,” glorifying all-too-thin runway models is a public health hazard, especially for teenage girls.

It contributes to developing body dysmorphic disorder (seeing yourself as severely flawed) and eating disorders such as anorexia (thinking you’re overweight, even when you’re clearly underweight) and bulimia (binge-eating followed by forced vomiting, laxative overuse, fasting, excessive exercise). Those disorders can trigger gastrointestinal and kidney problems, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease—and can be life-threatening.

Experts from Harvard’s School of Public Health are calling on the U.S. government to ban hiring models with a BMI below18—many are below 16. We second their call and urge parents to help their children feel good about their appearance and to understand the hazards of being too thin.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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