Before they can strut the catwalk, fashion models in France will need a medical certificate permitting them to do so.
After years of receiving criticism for showing models who are “too thin,” the French fashion industry is taking a new step.
The medical certificate will be valid for two years, and recognized within the European Union. It will pay special attention to body mass index according to weight and height.
The average fashion model has a BMI of 16 measuring 5ft 9 and average weight of 121 lbs. Adults with a BMI below 18.5 are considered underweight, 18 are malnourished, and 17 are severely malnourished.
After much deliberation whether the decree should solely be based on a minimum BMI, regardless of age, weight, and height, Parliament agreed to leave the decision up to medical professionals.
Dr Olivier Véran, a Socialist MP and neurologist who contributed to the bill, mentioned it was crucial to change the mentalities of the fashion industry when it comes to body image and acceptable terms of “skinniness.”
A second decree will be enforced in October of this year. It will require any edited image of a model to be indicated as “Photographie Retouchée,” or “Retouched Photograph.”
If image retouching is not disclosed, the fines could be €37,500. Those employing a model without the health requirements and certificate could face a fine of €75,000, as well as six months in jail.
These laws were created in an effort to reduce anorexia and other eating disorders among models. Also in place is the exposure reduction of unrealistic body image expectations.
I applaud the motivation and appreciate that France has taken a leadership role.
According to the New York Times, Dr. Austin, director of Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders said, “We may also expect to see ripple effects throughout the global fashion industry, which looks to France as the industry leader. Only time will tell.”
Since Paris is considered the capital fashion of the world, there is hope that it will begin a worldwide influence for promoting healthy body images within the industry. Spain, Italy and Israel have begun taking similar measures.