France has passed a law banning the use of fashion models that are excessively thin. Modeling agents and fashion houses who hire models that look anorexic will face fines or even jail under the new law. France is a world capital of fashion, with an industry that is worth tens of billions of dollars.
The law also will impose fines on websites that support or promote anorexia through encouraging eating restrictions that results in risk of mortality or damage to health." In addition, all commercial photos that have been retouched to change the body image of a model must state that the image has been modified.
Israel already has a law in place that bans the use of any model who looks anorexic both in advertising and on fashion runways. It passed the law in 2013. Spain and Italy have voluntary codes of conduct to protect models.
President Francois Hollande and his government have campaigned against anorexia. There are between 30,000 and 40,000 people in France who have anorexia nervosa. The new law on models is part of a larger piece of legislation on health.
Under the law, models must 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.
Any agent or company that goes against the law on too-thin models could face up to 6 months in jail or a fine of up to $82,000.
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.