France is taking bold measures to fight against eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
In a newly adopted bill, the lawmakers in one of the fashion spots in the world are planning to compel very thin models to obtain a health certificate first before they can do their job. It must contain weight-related information such as body mass index (BMI) and an approval that says their weight is within the standards of their work. Further, magazines with edited images may now have to indicate whether editors have used Photoshop to achieve the look.
Stiff punishments that include a hefty fine of more than $100,000 and a jail time of at least six months are waiting for agencies that employ these models should they violate the law.
Back in April, the lawmakers wanted to impose a minimum BMI and that models should score higher before they can strut in the catwalk. It received harsh complaints from agencies that said it could affect the country's competitiveness in the industry.
An earlier bill also seeks to punish of at least one year in jail for people who promote eating disorders like anorexia. Called pro-ana, many of these have set up websites where others who want to be excessively thin can get tips and suggestions from sufferers.
In 2007, France launched a controversial campaign against excessive thinness with billboards featuring Isabelle Caro, a French actress and model who suffered from an eating disorder since in her teens. She attributed her condition as a result of bad childhood. At the height of her illness, she weighed less than 60 pounds despite her five feet five frame. She eventually died of an acute respiratory illness at 28, a condition she may have developed after her immunity failed due to anorexia.
In the country, at least 30,000 people have eating disorders, and most of them are adolescents.