A new law forbids anorexic models from doing their job in France without a medical certificate confirming their health state.
Models will have to provide the medical certificate to their employers before getting hired. Those who fail to obey the law could be fined with up to 75,000 Euro ($81,000) and even spend up to six months in prison.
A previous version of the law was introducing a minimum Body Mass Index (BMI) but that part has been removed since it could lead to discrimination. A BMI under 18 is considered as underweight according to the standards provided by the World Health Organization. However, the average BMI of women in France is 23.
However, the new version of the bill gives free hand to doctors who can assess if a person’s health is being put in jeopardy by her weight and whether or not one is fitted for modelling, taking into account factors like age, gender, history of dieting and even the menstrual pattern since eating disorders often cause major disturbances on women’s periods.
The regulations will apply all over France, including to international models who want to do their job in the European country.
Another provision of the same law stipulates that every Photoshopped image featuring a model whose waist line has been changed to look fuller or skinnier has to be labelled as ‘digitally altered’. Those who will not comply will be fined with up to 35,500 Euros ($40,600), or up to 30 percent of the total amount spent with the advertisement.
French officials are hoping that tightening controls over the fashion industry will reduce the rate of anorexia, which affects up to 40,000 people in France. In 2008, the National Institute for Health issued a report showing that 0.5 percent of teenage girls between 12 and 17 years old were anorexic.
Besides that, more and more websites appear online promoting anorexia and bulimia. They are referred as pro-Ana (pro anorexia) and Mia (bulimia) and while promoting excessive thinness, they also encourage eating disorders, promoting them as being ‘cool’ and ‘alternative’.
The earlier version of the law proposal included forbidding all of these websites and severe punishments for those who encouraged eating disorders with fines up to 10,000 Euros ($10,900) and a year in prison.
However, experts have argued that many of those websites are being run by sufferers of the diseases and the threatening could push them into even more dangerous situations so that part was also taken out of the final version.
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