New French Law Cracks Down On Underweight Models & Sneaky Retouching

Photo: MCV.
Yesterday, France’s National Assembly finally passed a law to ban extremely thin models, a first step toward healthier-looking catwalks that's been in the works since spring. The law, which was first proposed in March and approved by the French parliament in April, requires that before booking gigs in France, models must supply a medical certificate proving her “overall health” and “appropriate” Body Mass Index (BMI), according to WWD.

The exact specs of the these certificates — and a decision about when they will become mandatory — still has to be determined by the French ministry, based on input from the French National Authority for Health. Violations will land fashion houses or modeling agencies in serious trouble, to the tune of 75,000 euros (roughly $81,300) and six months in prison.

The law also includes an article, previously unmentioned in the bill’s proposal and approval a few months ago, that addresses rampant photoshopping. It will go into effect by January 1, 2017. Any commercial photos (a.k.a. advertisements) of models that have been digitally altered, whether the airbrushing is done to make certain body parts thinner or larger, must now include text that reads “retouched photograph.” The punishment for rogue photoshopping is a pretty steep fine starting at 37,500 euros (roughly $40,675) and climbing as high as 30% of whatever was spent to produce the incriminating ad.

Back in 2013, Israel greenlit a law banning underweight models. Denmark has perhaps been the most progressive about its efforts to ensure health in the industry: earlier this year, it overhauled the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter that was introduced in 2007. The collaborative commitment to healthier models, which was created by the country’s Model Union, its eighth largest modeling agency, and the Danish Fashion Institute, involves mandatory regular health checkups, in lieu of rigidly defined BMI stipulations. Spain and Italy have also made some inroads in recent years regarding ultra-thin models.