Being a fashion model usually means being thin, but France may soon ban models that are too thin. Not only will models have to show that they are an appropriate weight for their heights, the modeling agencies and fashion designers who hire an excessively skinny model may potentially be fined. The rules are part of a bill currently in the French legislature.
Italy, Spain, and Israel already have laws in place which ban the use of any model who looks anorexic both in advertising and on fashion runways. Those countries passed those laws in 2013.
Banning the use of excessively thin models is being done for two reasons: to try to curb unrealistic and unhealthy representations in the media that may cause girls and young women to become anorexic and to help the models take care of their health and not starve themselves.
France is a world capital of fashion, with an industry that is worth tens of billions of dollars. The law would require models to have regular health checks, with fines up to €70,000 ($79,000 for not following the proposed rules. Models would have to present a medical certificate that shows they have a body mass index of at least 18. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of weight and height. A BMI of 18 would be about 121 pounds for a model 5 foot 7 inches in height. Models would need to present the certificate before being hired for a modeling job and for a few weeks afterward.
The bill also proposed penalties for any advertising or media that encourages extreme thinness. This would include "pro-ana" websites that celebrate anorexia and unhealthy dieting. The bill was presented to the legislature by Olivier Veran, a Socialist who is also a physician. Veran says that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 people suffering from anorexia in France.