It is no secret that the fashion industry has often received a lot of criticism regarding the models’ weight. Many countries have so far tried to take action regarding this issue, providing a safer environment both for the famous models and the aspiring ones. There’s however one country in particular, where the battle against such big health issues has become a priority: France. In a never-seen-before effort to protect the models and young women’s health, France has just put forth a new model health law, which makes it mandatory to show a doctor’s note in order to be able to work, while also banning super-thin models.
The French High Health Authority’s minister of Health and Labor passed a new bill on Thursday, December 17th, which implies taking eating disorders in the fashion industry into consideration, resulting in the replacement of the earlier version of the bill that required all the models to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher or equal to 18 in order to work. According to the National Assembly, such a method was not the most accurate one, as it could not precisely determine the heath status of a person. And it doesn’t end here. Besides showing the doctor’s note, the lawmakers also voted to make it mandatory for magazines to inform their viewers whether their pictures have been “altered, to make the silhouette narrower or wider,” or not.
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In a country where it is estimated that between 30,000 and 40,000 people suffer from anorexia nervosa (which could lead to subsequent health problems such as anemia, bone loss, kidney problems and many more), taking action became a priority. That’s why failing to meet the requirements could even result in pricey fines up to €75,000 (around $82,000/ £ 54,500) and six months in jail. As for the advertising agencies, failing to comply with the new law means facing a fine up to €37,500 (around 40,000) or 30% of their advertising expenditures.
The strict law, effective by Jan. 1, 2017, aims at discouraging unhealthy, dangerous and restrictive eating habits that could affect not only the models but also all women in general. Of course, it has already received some criticism. On the one hand, we have psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, who claim that it would be better for the government to provide more resources and raise awareness of anorexia and eating disorders in general, while on the other there are many modeling agencies, which fear for their models’ health safety.
Regarding this, secretary general of Synam Isabelle Saint-Felix, which represents around 40 modelling agencies in France, declared also that such a law “ignores the fact that anorexia is a psychogenic illness.”
However, France is not alone in this battle. Italy, Spain and Israel have been following a similar path, with Israel even adopting a similar Photoshop law in 2012. Women who want to hit the Israeli catwalks must have a Body Max Index of over 18.5. In the UK, similar actions have been taken into consideration, too, mainly thanks to Rosie Nelson, a model who is currently fighting to have a similar law, and some celebrities, who have been openly taking a stand against airbrushing and other Photoshop techniques for magazines.
Photo courtesy of Vogue