France bans extremely thin models

A law in France banning the use of unhealthily thin fashion models came into effect this month. The country’s health ministry hopes it will help combat inaccessible ideals of beauty

Models working in France will now need a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health, and particularly in regard to their body mass index (BMI). The country’s health ministry say they want to help balance unattainable ideals of beauty and combat eating disorders.

Digitally altered photographs will also have to be labeled as such from 1 October. Any images in which a model’s appearance has been adjusted will need to be marked photographie retouchée – retouched photograph.

Exposing young people to unrealistic images leads to poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behaviour

Though a previous incarnation of the bill suggested a BMI for models, the final version allows doctors to make decisions about whether models are healthy, based on their weight, age and body shape. French modelling agencies had protested the previous version.

Employers breaking the law could face fines of up to 75,000 euros (£63,500) and up to six months in jail.

“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 behaviour,” said France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, French media reported.

Italy, Spain and Israel have already legislated on underweight models.

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