France is saying no more to the super skinny models we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the runway. France’s National Assembly lower house of parliament is backing a law banning models with a BMI below 18 from working in the country. They want to fine anyone in violation of the law up to $85,000 USD and up to six months in prison. The Assembly also voted to put a ban on pro-ana and eating disorder websites, which could have consequences of a hefty fine and up to a year in jail. Lawmakers also support a law requiring retouched images to clearly indicate they have been modified.
France is hoping that these laws, part of a larger health initiative, will help promote a healthier and more realistic body image to the public, though France’s Union of modeling agencies SYNAM says these laws are unfair because some models are naturally thin and the Assembly is conflating their physique with something negative. They also argue that anorexia will continue to be a problem even if there are fewer skinny models on the runway, but to us, that seems like a flimsy excuse for maintaining the status quo.
France’s modeling agencies may just have to work harder to broaden their narrow criteria of beauty. They are concerned that the new law will make French models less competitive in the industry, but if models have to be extremely thin in order to compete in the first place, then this law seems to be exactly what France needs in order to change the tides. Model scouts have to look for new talent all the time – it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find girls who look healthy.
The law has to be approved by France’s senate in order to go into effect, and we’re hoping it is welcomed with the same approval as it was in the National Assembly.