It has been suggested that some minor details have been left out by the news - that these two girls died from genetic disorders rather than a result of them being underweight. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case though...personally I never take anything that the news says as gospel. Regardless of this, as a fitness professional, I still don't think that skinny models should be banned.
Whether these two models died as a direct result of their body weight, or not; should their death's therefore be a (misguided) justification to ban underweight models universally?
I think not. Assuming that the media implications were misguided - just because two people died, who happened to be skinny, who also happened to be models - this could purely be coincidental. I cannot therefore justify discriminating against underweight models because of a coincidence.
People who are underweight and suffer from a related disease, be it bulimia, anorexia nervosa and so on is a different story altogether. I am sure that there are a handful of models who sit in this category. Conversely, I am also sure that there are many models who are underweight (based on their BMI or Body Mass Index), yet have achieved a low fat level through a healthy approach to diet and exercise. Unfortunately these healthy models do not get nearly the same amount of media attention...simply because it doesn't make an interesting story. Why should these healthy models lose the right (not the privilege) to participate in an industry that they work particularly hard in, when they do not put their own health at risk?
Frankly, I am not fond of banning models based purely on something as superficial as their BMI. A blanketed suggestion like this is totally inappropriate in today's day and age. Since the real problem (with SOME people, not only models) is psychological, a professionally administered psychological approach should be employed. A much more responsible approach to this issue would include some form of encouragement to seek counselling for those who may suffer from an eating disorder. Although this is a personal decision in itself, so the boundaries between work and personal life are a little fuzzy here. However, if a model is in a particularly risky situation with regards to his/her health, then I believe that the employer should have some responsibility to terminate the modelling work and have the model seek professional assistance. This would be a case-by-case scenario though.
Here's another general pecerption portrayed by the media which I feel is completely unfair. That "underweight models" are "not real people" and that "plus size models" are "real people". Give me a break! Just look at the general population and you will see that people are all shapes and sizes. There are people with smaller builds out there that can fit into smaller dress sizes. There are also people out there who are of a larger build and therefore can relate to the plus size models. They cater for different people, it's as simple as that.
Whilst on the topic of "plus size models", why should "skinny models" necessarily get a bad wrap and "larger build models" necessarily get a good wrap? Many plus size models are overweight, which can increase the risk of various diseases. So should we therefore ban plus size models because they are at a higher risk of heart disease relative to a "normal BMI" person? Of course not - this is pure discrimination! Using this same line of thinking, it is completely unjustified to "ban" underweight models!
Finally, banning models based on their BMI in the modelling industry may not seem so ludicrous considering the events that have taken place recently (at least the way that they have been portrayed by the media). But what about a slippery slope effect into other fields? Here's an example. Many athletes require a very low body fat in order to gain the greatest competitive advantage in their sport. Many athletes also suffer from psychological eating disorders in order to shed the fat. Should underweight athletes therefore also be banned? Now that sounds pretty crazy to me.