Thursday, April 24, 2008

Obese or thin, government wants to nanny you

In the United States the rage is to deplore obesity, and proposals abound for the government to save us from ourselves. In France, however, the government is worried about the cult of thinness and extreme dieting. The French National Assembly has approved legislation that would make it a crime to promote extreme dieting, punishable by up to two years in prison and fines up to $47,000.

The publisher of Elle magazine worries that they may not be able to publish anything, since they deal with fashion and most models are ridiculously thin, and publishing their pictures might be construed as promoting extreme thinness. Maybe fashion shows could be banned. In Paris?

I suspect those worries are a bit extreme -- at least for now -- although Spain has actually banned models with less than a specified body mass and Italy now requires models to present health certificates proving they don't suffer from eating disorders.

What the concerns about obesity and thinness demonstrate is that government will use almost any justification to force us into a model, to protect us from ourselves, to nanny us -- backed up by criminal penalties and fines, of course. When will people begin to demand that we move beyond the flawed model of the nation-state?

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