France Bans Extremely Thin Models

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The fashion capital of the world has just made a ground-breaking and glorious alteration to the modelling industry.

A law in France banning the use of unhealthily thin fashion models comes into effect today in an attempt to fight eating disorders and negative perceptions of beauty.

France has just implemented a law that states unhealthily underweight models may not appear in fashion shows or editorial fashion photo shoots, and employers will face jail time if the ban is broken, reports the BBC.

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The law requires models to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health. In particular, doctors will need to check their body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height.

Due to the diversity of the female and male form, doctors will decide whether a model is too thin by taking into account their weight, age, and body shape, on a case-by-case basis, so as to avoid subjective discrimination.

France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, released a statement of Friday saying:

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.

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Anorexia affects up to 40,000 people in France, 90 per cent of whom are women. This legislature aims to help stop that, at least within the realms of the fashion sector.

May models have spoken out about the pressures to stay skinny and mould your natural body shape to fit into the fashion industry’s tight strictures, and the tough diet and exercise plans of supermodels are much-documented.

This new legislation demands the fashion industry take responsibility for the potential impact of peddling those beauty perceptions to vulnerable observers, and should give the sector a much-needed diversity injection.

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France follows the lead of Italy, Spain and Israel – countries whose governments have also implemented legislation on underweight models.

Employers breaking the law could face fines of up to 75,000 euros (£63,500; $82,000) and up to six months in jail.


Francesca Donovan

Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.