Harvard Professors Are Calling for Healthier U.S. Modeling Regulations

Two professors wrote an editorial advocating an end to dangerous weight standards in the fashion industry.

Two eating disorder experts from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) are speaking out against the fashion industry, calling for better guidelines to prevent dangerously thin models from working.

S. Bryn Austin and Katherine Record, two HSPH professors involved with the school’s Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED), wrote in an American Journal of Public Health editorial that barring unhealthfully thin models from photo shoots and runway shows could help reduce the prevalence of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa among the general public, as well as in the fashion community.

Austin and Record wrote that there should be specific U.S. modeling regulations that encourage better health in the industry, like a minimum body mass index, to ensure that models are not significantly underweight. Many models, they noted, currently have BMIs of 16 or lower, the World Health Organization’s standard for dangerous thinness.

“Models have died of starvation-related complications, sometimes just after stepping off the runway,” they add in the editorial.

This is far from the first time experts have called for better health standards in the fashion industry—guidelines were suggested as early as 2007. But since France, one of the world’s foremost fashion capitals, recently enacted standards similar to those Austin and Record are calling for, the pair writes that new American action “would shake the fashion industry, even if enforcement dollars were few and far between. Designers would be hard pressed to maintain a presence in the fashion industry without participating in the New York City and Paris Fashion Weeks.”