France Bans Extremely Thin Models

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The French government has passed a law in the European country banning the use of unhealthily thin fashion models.

Models working in France now will need to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health, with regard to their body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of weight in relation to height.

The health ministry says the aim of the new law is to fight eating disorders and inaccessible ideals of beauty. Digitally altered photos will also have to be labelled from October 1. Images where a model’s appearance has been edited will need to be marked photographie retouchée which translates in English as retouched photograph.

A previous version of the bill had suggested a minimum BMI for models, prompting protests from modelling agencies in France. The new version of the bill however allows doctors to decide whether a model is too thin by taking into account their weight, age, and body shape. Employers breaking the law could face fines of up to 75,000 euros ($82,000) and up to six months in jail.

“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,” France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, said in a statement on Friday.

France is not the first country to legislate on underweight models – Italy, Spain and Israel have all done so. Anorexia affects between 30,000 to 40,000 people in France, 90% of whom are women.

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