France is set to pass legislation banning ultra skinny models from working.
In a nation in which fashion is not just a livelihood but also a passion this legislation could save lives.
In France lawmakers are currently debating a proposed anti-anorexia bill which would mean thin models could be banned from the catwalks of France. The “anti-anorexia” amendments mean that managers of modeling agencies could face six months in prison for employing unhealthily thin women.
The promotion of excessive skinniness would also become a criminal offence in a move aimed at sites that encourage eating disorders with “pro-anorexia” or “thinspiration” to achieve a thigh gap or bikini bridge.
Under the proposed new laws agencies would have to require medical certificates from models showing that their BMI was higher than the minimum. Breaching the law would be punishable with a fine of up to €75,000 (A$100,000) and six months imprisonment.
Related content: Why models are thin, how history and culture make skinny models.
Marisol Touraine, the health minister supports the laws saying “If you are a model, it is important to pass the message to girls . . . that you must eat and take care of your health. Yes, I am going to support this measure.”
They have been tabled by Olivier Véran, a Socialist MP who is also a neurologist. Dr Véran said “It is intolerable to promote malnutrition and to exploit people commercially who are endangering their own health.”
The measures, if passed into law, would mean that France would join Israel, Spain, and Italy in legislating health in fashion.
Last year Israel became the first country to enforce legislation to combat eating disorders. The Israeli law requires that models have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18.5.
In Spain, Italy, Belgium and Chile there are industry codes and local regulations.
The Israeli law requires that models have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18.5.
In Australia there is a Code Of Conduct for the industry which was set up by The National Body Image Advisory Group. But it is voluntary
Mia Freedman wrote for Mamamia last year:
“ Since the announcement of the code nothing has changed. Almost without exception, the fashion industry defiantly ignored us. This was back in 2009 and we are STILL having this discussion five years later. We are STILL seeing drastically underweight girls on catwalks – not just Alex Perry’s catwalk but almost every designer showing during fashion week.
… I urge the industry, come together as a group and do something. Take a closer look at our code of conduct because it’s clearly more necessary than ever that you change if you want to stay relevant and profitable.
Back in France Olivier Veran told Le Parisien that under the legislation models would have to present a medical certificate showing a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18, about 55 kg for a height of 1.75m before being hired for a job and for a few weeks afterwards.