The French Parliament has adopted a new bill that will forbid the use of fashion models who have been determined to be “excessively thin”. The law will require that models obtain a certificate from a doctor declaring that their health is “compatible with the practice of the profession”. Additionally, the new law will require any digitally-altered image that directly affects the body shape of a model to be appropriately labeled.
Employers who use excessively thin models could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $82,000. In most cases, models will be required to meet the minimum Body Mass Index (BMI) level for that of a healthy individual. The move has already prompted protests from French modeling agencies. Members of the French Parliament have said that the law should discourage people from trying to obtain extremely thin bodies.
However, the BMI factor won’t be conclusive, as doctors will ultimately have the final decision as to which models are healthy enough to participate in the profession. Some doctors might let a slightly underweight BMI slide by taking into account the model’s age, weight, gender and body type.
Additionally, the law will require that photoshopped images that make the silhouette of the model appear narrower or wider be labeled as “touched up”. Other countries such as Italy, Spain and Israel have already enacted similar legislations on underweight models. It is unknown if these policies have had a real impact on anorexia in these countries.
An earlier version of the bill would have also made it a crime to promote or encourage anorexia, bulimia or excessive thinness on the internet. However, this portion of the bill was eventually scrapped by the Lower House of the French Parliament.
Somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people in France are affected by anorexia, with 90% of these individuals being women. The eating disorder is known for having a high mortality rate.