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France set to pass legislation banning ultra skinny models.

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.

France is poised to pass the legislation.

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.

The 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.

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Alessandra Ambrosio has a BMI of 16.3 according to Unleashed.

According to the National Heart Foundation a BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight.

 Unleashed recently examined Victoria’s Secret models – showing how many of these models who we might consider healthy (as that’s the image the brand tries to portray) are actually dangerously underweight.

Candice Swanepoel, 26, from South African, has a BMI of 17.7, Doutzen Kroes, 30, of the Netherlands, was put at 17.9 and Alessandra Ambrosio, a 33-year-old Brazilian who registered 16.3.

Related content: MIA: Dear Fashion Industry, here’s your code of conduct.

In 2008 France tried to pass laws targeting pro-anorexic sites, blogs and social media pages but it was stalled in the Senate.

Similarly Italy has recently been debating making it criminal to post images on these sites.

Italian author author Chiara Lalli wrote an opinion piece criticising the proposed Italian law, calling it “wacky” and “ultra-conservative.”

“How can you think of putting in jail the authors of blogs, websites, Facebook pages, who are often just the girls who suffer from anorexia?” and said she felt the proposal “lacks reflection, study.”

Should ‘pro-ana’ sites be banned?

Christine Morgan from The Butterfly Foundation has previously said that she does not feel banning these sites is the answer.

She told Fairfax Media last year “I would be very concerned about criminalising them,”

“It’s a site where people who are not well come to get support, help and understanding. We should be looking at helping them with recovery, and not criminalising their illness”.

As France seem poised to take positive action many feel it is time for Australia to step forward and be proactive on body image as well but Senator Michaelia Cash has said she doesn’t feel the responsibility lies with government.

“The prevalence of wafer-thin models being presented as the norm is not desirable. That said, legislating against the use of models below a certain weight will not achieve the necessary cultural change that is required,” she told Fairfax Media.

“Such change will only be attained by the industry taking responsibility for the images it chooses to publish and the subsequent messages these images send to their readers.”

What do you think should the government take action here in Australia?

If you need help please call The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 ED HOPE / 1800 33 4673 or email [email protected] to speak to a counsellor.