Members of the French government have adopted a bill aimed at banning employment of fashion models deemed to be “excessively thin.” The bill stipulates that models must obtain a medical certificate stating that their health – “assessed in particular in terms of body mass index – is compatible with the practice of the (modeling) profession.” A previous version of the bill had suggested a minimum Body Mass Index for models, prompting protests from modeling agencies in France. The final draft, which was approved on Thursday, allows doctors to decide whether a model is too thin by taking into account their weight, age, and body shape.
In addition to spelling out the terms for model employment in France, the bill also speaks to photoshopping, requiring that digitally altered images, which make a model’s silhouette “narrower or wider,” be labeled “touched up.” Employers who are found in violation of the law will be punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a fine of €75,000 (£54,000).
France is not the first country to legislate on underweight models – Italy, Spain and Israel have also enacted similar legislation.
Speaking about the newly-enacted legislation, Isabelle Saint-Félix, general secretary of Synam, France’s union of model agencies, told WWD, “The power is in the hands of designers, photographers and editors. They’re the ones who make dresses in size 34 or 36, who decide to shoot or feature them. Modelling agencies respond to the demand of advertisers, designers and photographers. One asks models to fit in a dress – not the opposite. I would like everyone to sit around a table and say that the time of models who are too thin is over.”