France Is Taking A Stand Against Dangerously Thin Models

Photographed by Nina Westervelt.
The prevalence of dangerously thin models is arguably one of the most publicized issues in fashion today — and ironically enough, it's also one that many designers tend to sweep under the, uh, catwalk. Sure, a handful of companies have taken important steps to represent a healthier body image in ad campaigns and photoshoots. But, more often than not, very-thin models remain the norm.

This may not be true for long, though — at least not in France. According to WWD, the French government is likely to pass a law punishing the agents and designers who hire underweight models. The law would require regular weight tests for working models; if they don't pass, the staff who hired them could be fined up to €75,000 ($79,000) and possibly receive jail time.

There's no getting around these weight requirements, either: Under the proposed legislation, each model would have to present a medical certificate that proves she has a BMI of at least 18 — which, for a 5'8" woman, would mean a weight of at least 119 pounds — before booking a job. (A BMI of 18.5 or lower is considered "underweight" by most medical standards.)

Health Minister Marisol Touraine said in an interview that these measures are necessary not only for the models themselves, but also for the millions of young girls who look up to these women. “It’s important for fashion models to say that they need to eat well and take care of their health, especially for young women who look to the models as an aesthetic ideal," she explained. 

If the bill passes, France would join Italy, Spain, and Israel as the latest country to take legal measures against too-thin models. These weight requirements might seem severe at first glance, but given the minimal success of U.S. initiatives — including a statement from the CFDA and the continued work of the Model Alliance — extreme action like this may be what's necessary to truly bring about change. Stay tuned. (WWD
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