On Friday a new law which bans models who are excessively thin was passed in France. Fashion houses and agents who hire extremely thin models will get fined or end up in jail. Being a world capital of fashion, France can influence the style trends around the world. Other countries such as Spain and Israel have taken similar actions.
According to the amendment to the health bill approved by the French lawmakers any person whose weight is below the levels required by health authorities is not allowed to work as a model. Olivier Veran, a neurologist who fought against anorexia explained that the purpose of this law is not only to protect models, but also teenagers. The body-image which the extremely thin fashion models impose affects teenagers and generates eating disorders since they start to eat less and less.
According to Association Autrement, an NGO seeking to help people who have eating disorders, more than 200.000 French people suffer from anorexia. The number is five times higher than the estimation made by the government. In 20007 Isabelle Caro, a French model appeared in the controversial campaign “No Anorexia”. She posed nude in order to raise awareness regarding this illness.
Any modeling agency or fashion agent who hires a model who has the body mass index under the level imposed by the law will risk six month of prison and a fine of $80.000 (75.000 euros).According to the World Health Organization underweight means a body mass index less than 18.5. People who have anorexia usually have a body mass index of less than 17.5, which would be the equivalent of a woman who weighs 112 and is about 5 foot 7. Veran argues that sending people to prison or fining them is not what the authorities intend. The law must be discouraging in order to protect the people working in the modeling industry.
The French Fashion Federation and other modeling agencies were contacted by the press, but they refused to comment on the bill until the law will be finalized. The bill, proposed by the Social President Francois Hollande, needs the Senate’s approval before becoming law.
Similar measures were taken before in 2008, but they failed to get approved by the French legislature. Health professionals are also against these types of movements because they are concerned that it will rather stigmatize anorexic youth making it harder to treat them.
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