The controversies and criticisms surrounding Kate Moss have often been unfair and highly contradictory (Take off your bra! Put on some weight! After decades of being talked down to, Kate Moss speaks out, 25 July). However, Zoe Williams’ assertion that Moss’s famously slender figure was “just the way she looks” is both inaccurate and unhelpful. Moss’s exact statement in the Desert Island Discs interview was “I was thin because I didn’t get fed at shoots or in shows and I’d always been thin”, which highlights the problems in the modeling industry and, therefore, the role of environmental factors.
This may not seem like an important distinction to make. But to people with eating disorders, or the millions of young girls who see these models and wonder why they can’t seem to achieve that ideal stick-figure, it is essential to show that this is not normal or healthy. At the height of her modeling career, Kate Moss had a BMI of around 15 to 16. This is well beneath the BMI of 17.5, which is considered anorexic. Even if Moss herself did not suffer from the disease, it is clearly not a healthy or natural weight to be – a BMI under 16 even indicates starvation by the World Health Organization’s standard. Countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Israel have laws banning ultra-thin models, in the latter case any below the minimum healthy BMI of 18.5. This is not to discriminate. It is simply meant to combat unhelpful beauty standards, the spread of eating disorders – and the physical and mental strain on the models themselves.