France has joined several other countries in banning dangerously skinny fashion models from catwalks.
The new French underweight model legislation is effective as of right now. Its advent means that fashion models must prove their weight and general health via documentary evidence, specifically a doctor’s certificate.
This documentation should display – amongst other data - their weight in terms of BMI (Body Mass Index). Such BMIs aren’t just expressions of weight but consider a person’s height, too, so are designed to give a fairer indication of overall physical health.
Underweight Models Law
France’s health ministry says, in introducing the underweight model law, it’s aiming to combat the likes of anorexia and reshape current ‘beauty’ perceptions. As part of this stance, a new model images ruling comes into effect in October. This will make digital image alterations declarable by law. So, if any aspect of a model’s body has been changed, the text ‘photographie retouchée’ (‘retouched photograph’) will have to be displayed too.
Previously, the idea of a minimum models BMI had been put forward but modelling agencies did not respond at all well to this. The new law instead gives doctors the power to declare models too thin based on their body shape, age AND weight.
Unhealthy Models Ban
Maximum 75,000 Euro fines – plus six-month jail sentences – are in store for any firms that flout the new unhealthy models ban.
The doctors’ certificates will be valid for two years, explained Marisol Touraine, France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health. “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behaviour”, she said.
“These two texts aim to act on body image in society to avoid the promotion of inaccessible beauty ideals and to prevent anorexia in young people. The objective is also to protect the health of a sector of the population particularly at risk – models.”
An estimated 30,000-to-40,000 French residents are anorexic. All bar 10 per cent of this total are female.
Italy, Israel and Spain are among the other countries to have put underweight model legislation in place. France’s addition to this list comes hot on the heels of last week’s 'unhealthy’ mannequin body concerns news.