Health

Ban On Super-Thin Models Takes Effect In France

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Excessively thin models are now banned in France.

A new law passed by the French Parliament requires that models provide a doctor's certificate that verifies their overall physical health is good, especially in regards to their body mass index, which is calculated using their weight in relation to height, the BBC reports.

According to the CDC, a person's BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that could lead to health problems, but it is not a diagnostic tool that determines a person's body fatness or their health.

The average runway model has a BMI of 16, according to Newsweek. The World Health Organization labels such a BMI as being severely thin.

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France's health ministry said the new law against ultra-thin models aims to fight eating disorders and unrealistic beauty standards, according to the BBC. Between 30,000 to 40,000 people in France are affected by anorexia, with 90 percent of them being women.

The law will also require digitally altered photographs to be labeled as such beginning on Oct. 1, 2017.

"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 behavior," France's Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, said in a statement.

In a previous version of the bill, a suggested BMI for models was suggested, but modeling agencies in France protested such a stipulation. It will now be up to doctors to decide whether a model is too thin when considering her weight, age and body shape.

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"The activity of model is banned for any person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is lower than levels proposed by health authorities and decreed by the ministers of health and labor," the legislation says, according to Reuters.

Employers who break the law will face a fine of up to $82,000 and up to six months in jail.

Also included in the legislation is a prohibition on websites that promote readers to "seek excessive thinness by encouraging eating restrictions for a prolonged period of time, resulting in risk of mortality or damage to health." Violators of this measure face up to a year in prison and fines up to $108,000.

By passing the law, France, which has a fashion and luxury industry worth tens of billions of dollars, joins Israel, Spain and Italy in regulating underweight models. Since 2013, Israel has officially banned super-thin models, while Spain and Italy have a voluntary code of conduct in place that aims to protect models.

Sources: BBC, CDC, Reuters, Newsweek / Photo credit: Henry Jose/Flickr

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