The skinny on weight

Society shakes up its views on what's sexy

 by Megan Salisbury
 published on Thursday, September 28, 2006

First it was about cutting calories; then it was about cutting carbs.
Now, it's about cutting out unrealistic expectations.
From Dove's new "Campaign for Real Beauty" to The Association of Fashion Designers of Spain's recent ban on ultra-skinny models, the tide might finally be changing toward a more sensible view of what women's bodies should look like.
The worldwide Fashion Week, which took place Sept. 8 to 15, brought a new controversy into the limelight when super-skinny models were banned from the runway in Madrid, Spain.
The Association of Fashion Designers of Spain decided to ban models with a body mass index lower than 18, forcing designers like Antonio Pernas to change all of his models for the runway show.
Body mass index is a calculation that determines a person's total body fat. Several American models may have BMIs lower than 18, including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, according to ABC News.
Deanne Wilson, ASU nutrition counselor, says a healthy BMI level is between 18 to 25. A BMA of 30 is considered obese. However, a BMI level is not the most accurate way of determining body fat.
"I don't put too much stock into BMI," Wilson says. "It doesn't account for genes and muscle mass. You could have someone with a BMI over the recommended level who has a healthy body fat percentage."
Wilson says skin-fold tests may be a more accurate way in determining a healthy body weight. In this test, calipers are used to pinch the skin on a person's stomach, thighs and other body areas. The thickness of the underlying fat layer can be used to compute a body-fat percentage.
"BMI is just a tool. Use it with a grain of salt," Wilson says. "Don't compare yourself. Embrace the body you have. Body image is distorted; you don't know who is anorexic or how many people are obsessing about food."
Sergio Vazquez, a biology sophomore, agrees with the skinny-model ban in Spain.
"I think it's good they are starting to realize they need to promote a healthy model image," he says. "Even though models may not think they are looked up to, they are."
Kinesiology sophomore Heather Neal says she thinks The Association of Fashion Designers of Spain is looking out for the safety of the models who are underweight.
But others think the model ban is discriminatory, since the industry has never outright banned any body type before.
Elementary education sophomore Sarah Duarte says nobody should be left out.
"I don't think they should necessarily put down skinny women, especially if they can't help it, but I think it's important that they show average women in the media," she says.
Geography junior Kimberly Carpenter disagrees with the ban.
"In the fashion industry you have two types of women, the in and the out, the popular and the nerds in a sense," Carpenter says. "Here is a backlash toward the popular girls."
Wellness and Health Promotion educator Lynda Seefeldt says in an ideal world, we would see all shapes, sizes, colors and genders walk down the runway. However, the media promotes one particular body type in many commercials.
"Oftentimes only one body shape or size is portrayed," she says. "What I think Spain did is try to represent different body sizes."

Reach the reporter at: megan.m.sailsbury@asu.edu.



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