Stick thin models have historically been the image of high fashion, frequenting the fanciest runways and sporting the most high-couture clothing we all dream of wearing. As a society, we’ve started to see skinny bodies as the “ideal,” and while slim can be perfectly healthy for some women, showcasing it as the only right way to be built is not only unhealthy, but irresponsible. And it’s not only unhealthy for the public watching, but also for the young women trying to make it in the cutthroat industry.
Thankfully, one country is taking action to change this. A new public heath amendment has recently been passed in France that makes it a crime to encourage anorexia on the Internet or employ ultra-thin supermodels. The Verge reports that web offenders who break this new law will face up to one year in prison and/or a 10,000 euro (almost $11,000) fine.
Websites that run a “pro-ana” and “thinspirational” theme encouraging women to work toward a severely skinny body through starvation are also under fire. According to Telegraph UK, these sites will face imprisonment or charges for “provoking people to excessive thinness by encouraging prolonged dietary restrictions that could expose them to a danger of death or directly impair their health.”
Additionally, the French parliament has voted to keep ultra-thin catwalk models from being used on runways and in campaigns. Agencies who hire models who are under a specific body mass index (BMI) are not allowed to let them walk the runway or else they’ll face a 75,000 euro (over $82,00) and six months in prison, via The Guardian.
Modeling agencies have vehemently protested this new law since they believe it will affect the competitiveness of French modeling. Even last month, a bill was proposed to prevent excessively thin models and their agencies from being hired, but it was rejected since it was deemed a violation of anti-discrimination laws. However, a modified version was passed, stating that fashion agencies employing models with a BMI under 18 (in the unhealthily underweight range) can face jail time. Italy, Spain and Israel have all adopted similar regulations within their fashion industry.
If you ask me, France made the right choice with this new law. By keeping models a healthy weight, it’s taking unrealistic pressure off upcoming models, and sending an important message to women who turn to the fashion world for inspiration. Next, it’d be nice if fashion houses would include models of various body shapes, sizes and races, but for now, I guess featuring models who are healthfully slim is one step in the right direction.