Skinny Models Palaver: This Is Exactly Why France Banned Extremely Thin Girls in Fashion Industry


France has just banned extremely skinny models from performing in the country’s fashion industry, and you’ll certainly love the reason why!

Not just in first world countries, it has become more or less a norm that ladies who aspire to become models must do things to lose weight. Whether fat or slim, a girl must be thin to get signed by prominent modeling agencies across the globe.

However, in the bid to meet these requirements or expectations as the case may be, young ladies, adopt unhealthy lifestyles (termed healthy) to fit into such categories. The abuse of these strategies has caught the attention of health authorities in France.

France Bans Skinny Models

In December 2015, French MPs adopted a bill aimed at banning the use of fashion models considered to be “excessively thin”. The country has now implemented the law banning such unusually skinny models.

According to this new law, Models will need to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health, with special regard to their body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height. The ban was announced earlier, however, the law in this regard came into effect last week.

skinny models palaver

Although a minimum BMI was not specified, the measurement will be compared to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definitions of underweight to decide whether a model is certified. Models under the age of 16 will have their BMI calculated during medical check-ups, by doctors who will check nutrition and growth.

This new law is aimed at fighting eating disorders and inaccessible ideals of beauty -factors which lead to anorexia, and other eating disorders. Anorexia affects between 30,000 to 40,000 people in France -with 90% women, according to health ministry figures.

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Previous Bill

A previous bill which was massively criticized by stakeholders required that a minimum BMI, be specified for models, before approval. However after the bill garnered much protest from modeling agencies in France, another was passed.

This final version, backed by MPs in 2015, allows doctors to decide whether a model is too thin by taking into account their weight, age, and body shape. Employers breaking the law could face fines of up to 75,000 euros (£63,500; $82,000) and up to six months in jail.

This move was backed by France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, in a statement on Friday May 6, 2017.

“Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behaviour.”

Also Attainable in this new law, is a provision that digitally altered photos will be labeled. More so, images, where a model’s appearance has been manipulated, will need to be marked “photographie retouchee” (retouched photograph).

France is not the first country to legislate on underweight models. France’s ban on extremely thin models, as a matter of fact, follows similar interdictions in countries like Spain and Italy.

Fashion Modeling Laws in other Countries

Spain: Considered to be one of France’s inspirations for healthy model legislation, the country uses a BMI of 18 as a minimum standard of health. This restriction was manifested at the Madrid Fashion Week in 2006 when underweight models were prohibited from walking in the annual event. This had seen up to one-third of models who participated in the 2005 edition, turned away.

In Italy, models with BMIs of less than 18.5 are not allowed on the catwalk. In addition, models had to be at least 16. The country also prohibits “anorexic” make-up look of dark shadows under the eyes.