French ministers have passed a new law that will allow them to ban excessively thin fashion models and expose modeling agents and the fashion houses that hire them to possible fines and even jail.
France is now the fourth nation to impose such a ban after Israel, Spain and Italy. The law prohibits models exhibiting a body mass index (BMI) of 18 or lower from the industry for which France is famous for. A BMI of 18 equates to a model with a height of 5 feet and 5 inches weighing 108 pounds.
Agencies and fashion designers who will use models under the minimum build could be fined up to $81,200, as well as spend as long as six months in jail.
The law is part of a campaign against anorexia by President Francois Hollande’s government. Lawmakers also made it illegal to condone anorexia and said any re-touched photo that alters the bodily appearance of a model for commercial purposes must carry a message stating it had been manipulated. Despite the opposition from conservative party ministers, the law was voted through the lower house of parliament by Hollande’s Socialist majority party.
France also voted for a further clause in the health bill making it illegal to glorify anorexia on the internet. It fixes a maximum fine of $10,895 and a year in jail 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.
Marisol Touraine, France’s Health Ministers, who supported the law, said, “The use of anorexic models is worrying. Hopefully this new law rectifies that.”
However, not everyone supports the new law. Isabelle Saint-Felix, head of the National Union of Modeling Agencies in France, said, “When you look at the criteria behind anorexia, you can’t look only at the body mass index when other criteria are also involved: psychological, a history of hair loss, dental problems. It’s important that the models are healthy, but it’s a little simplistic to think there won’t be any more anorexics if we get rid of very thin models.”