Ensuring that models are healthy has been a very big topic in recent years. There has been a lot of commentary about the impact of runway shows and ad campaigns featuring “too thin” models. It is a topic that didn’t just concern the fashion industry, but the government as well. More action has been taken to ensure models’ well being and make sure that the industry is promoting a healthy body image. Progress was made in France recently where MPs passed a law involving models on the runway and Photoshopped images.
Under the new law, models must provide a medical certificate to prove that they are healthy. The bill of health hopes to reduce the number of eating disorders and cases of anorexia.
If this sounds familiar, it is because the law was first introduced to Parliament in April 2015. Originally, the law stated that models must have a certain BMI to be able to work. They bill read:
“The activity of model is banned for any person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is lower than levels proposed by health authorities and decreed by the ministers of health and labor.”
If casting agents did not comply with the rules, they could have been fined €75,000 (approximately $82,000) and face up to six months in prison.
The origina law also targeted pro-anorexia websites. If a site encouraged anorexia or extreme diet restrictions, they faced €10,000 (approximately $11,000) fine and a year in prison.
The law received strong reactions from numerous people. Many were in favor of it and hoped it would help ensure the well being of models, but other criticized it. One argument was that only looking at models’ BMIs was too simplistic. It didn’t take into account all of the other factors associated with health such as age, body shape, psychological issues, activity and emotional factors.
For the new law, French MPs rejected the earlier clause in the bill about the BMI, according to The Guardian. It is now a doctor’s responsibility to asses a model’s factors such as age, weight, body type and activity level and decide whether or not they are too thin. The fines are still harsh for rule breakers. Failure to provide a certificate will be punishable by a fine of €75,000 and up to six months in jail.
The clause about the pro-anorexia website was also changed. A MP explained that those who run the website often suffer from illnesses themselves and the threat of going to prison could lead to more damage.
Another change to the bill which was not previously highlighted involves retouched images. Photoshopped or “touched up” published photographs of models such as those in magazines must now be noted. If a models’ silhouette has been altered it needs to be labeled “photograph touched up.” Failure to do so will result in a €37,500 fine (approximately $40,751) , or 30% of the value of the advertisement featuring the model.
The laws may still be amended, but they show progress being made in the industry. France is the undisputed fashion capital of the world and what they do should help set a precedent for others to follow. Laws about models have already been made in countries such as Israel, Spain and Italy, but with France cracking down on the issues shows other fashion capitals they should be changing things too.
(Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)