I am applauding France’s health minister, Marisol Touraine, who recently announced she supports plans to criminalize the use of underweight models in high fashion. The French government is likely to back a bill currently being discussed in Paris
which would ban excessively thin fashion models, as well as potentially fining the modelling agency or fashion house who hires them, and sending agents to jail.
It would also ban pro-anorexia websites and forums encouraging eating disorders.
Italy, Spain, and Israel all previously adopted laws against too-thin models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns in early 2013. It’s encouraging to see a company like France, with it’s billion-dollar fashion and luxury industries, following suit. Unsurprisingly, the union representing fashion agencies is against the ban. Their thought? Regulating a model’s size will hurt an agency’s bottom line. To hell with health, I guess?
If the bill passes, any model who wants to work must have a body mass index (a type of height to weight ratio) of at least 18 and would be subject to weight checks. Tormaine says the ban would help protect young women who see models as the ideal female form
. (The normal weight BMI range is around 18.5 to 25, and a woman who is 5-foot-7 would have to weigh at least 121 pounds.)
As models continue to get thinner and thinner and we hear more and more about “reverse photoshopping” and pro-ana websites
, I can’t help but cheer a little to see us forcing the industry to take a step in the right direction. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and disordered eating is becoming almost normal in our society.
I really hope that this bill passes and that the fashion industry hears the message. I hope more governments take notice. I hope that models and regular women can stop obsessing about weight, that we can tear down the ridiculous beauty standards we've fabricated and that health can be more important than a pair of size 000 jeans
No style, no matter how high fashion, is worth someone’s health. It’s not worth someone’s life.