Bucking the adage that models can never be too thin or too beautiful, France has put into effect a law that prevents modelling agencies from hiring models that are too skinny.
The bill was originally brought forth in 2015, though that one was entirely dependent on a model’s BMI (body mass index), a body mass measurement that has since been discredited as an accurate gauge of health. The new ruling states that models must have a certificate from a doctor attesting to their overall physical health based on age, weight and body shape.
“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,” Marisol Touraine, France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, said in a statement.
In addition, fashion magazines or designers who sidestep the process will be fined up to 75,000 euros ($112,000) and could face up to six months in jail. And beginning Oct. 1, all retouched images that appear in a magazine will have to be labelled “photographie retouchée“ (retouched photograph), or face a fine of 37,500 euros ($56,000) or 30 per cent of the advertising budget, according to The Telegraph.
The British daily reports that fashion industry insiders are “angry” about the legislation and call it a “dangerous confusion between anorexia and the slimness of models” that could ultimately damage French modelling agencies. Synam, France’s national model agency union, said the approach to models’ size should be standardized across Europe.
“French model agencies are constantly in competition with their European counterparts,” Synam stated to The Telegraph. “As a result, a European approach is essential.”
Advocates of the bill, including Dr. Olivier Véran, a socialist MP who initially proposed it, point to the fact that Spain, Italy and Israel already have similar laws in place, while Brazil is also toying with legislation.
“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,” Touraine said. “The objective is also to protect the health of a sector of the population particularly at risk — models.”