Healthy is the new thin. France, one of the world leaders in fashion is making an extreme fashion change. The health minister of France, Marisol Touraine, supports the criminalizing of the use of anorexic models in advertising. France, who has long been criticized for using models who are anorexic, may now pass a law banning anorexic models. Joining behind others such as Spain, Israel and Italy, who are also standing up against the glorification of anorexic models. Spain banned models, in 2007, who had a mass-to-height ratio under 18. Israel put a ban on underweight models in 2013.
Oliver Veran, a neurologist at the University Hospital of Grenoble and Socialist lawmaker wants to add to the health bill making it illegal to employ models who are anorexic. Medical reports would have to prove that an agency’s models have a healthy mass-to-height ratio; a Body Mass Index (BMI) of an 18 minimum for a woman who is 1.75 meters tall (5.7 feet), average female model height. This would have to hold true before the model was hired and be continuously checked for a few weeks after hire. The law would require regular weight checks, and breaches would be fines of up to 75,000 euros ($79,000) and up to six months of jail time for any staff involved.
There is the possibility of a law that would make it a criminal offense to glorify the anorexic look. This law would target owners of anorexic websites. There are websites that give beauty tips to young teens and even pre-teens telling them to starve themselves to have a 15cm “thigh gap,” encouraging anorexic behavior. If passed, this crime would be punishable by up to one year in prison and 10,000 euros ($10,575) in fines. “It’s intolerable….to commercially exploit people who are endangering their own health,” said Mr. Veran.
Veran will be bringing up these amendments Monday as part of a health reform bill that will be presented to parliament’s lower house March 31. This bill will also give penalties to modeling or advertising agencies that show anything that can be thought of as encouragement toward being anorexic or overly thin. There was an earlier draft of this bill that was not voted on by parliament in 2008.
Unfortunately, 40,000 people in France battle with being anorexic every day, predominately teenagers. 90 percent of them are women. The modeling industry does directly affect the body image of youth, teens, women and men of all ages. Models are an “aesthetic ideal” so it would be important for them to represent healthy men and women who eat well, exercise and take good care of themselves. Isabelle Caro, a 28-year-old French model was anorexic. She died in 2007, after a photo shoot to raise awareness for those who are anorexic.
In 2013, Chanel designer, Karl Lagerfeld wrote a book. In this book Lagerfeld praises thinness, after losing 42 kilos himself. In his book, The World According to Karl, he wrote, “No one wants to see curvy women on the catwalk.” He has also commented that France’s health care system issues are largely the fault of the illnesses “contracted” by fat people. He claims that it is the fat women who eat in front of the television that think thin models are not sexy. He was sued for discriminatory and defamatory comments by the French organization, Pretty, Curvy, Sexy and Fine With It.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of Jasper Gregory – Flickr License
Photo courtesy of Simon Farnworth – Flickr License
Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon – Flickr License