As of 17th December 2015, anyone wanting to model in France must have written approval from his/her doctor to do so. On top of this, any modelling agency or fashion house that does not adhere to this new law could face a hefty fine of up to €75,000 (£54,000) and/or a six-month prison sentence (source: BBC News).
The previous draft of the bill had proposed the use of Body Mass Index (BMI) as an indicator for the health of the model; however, this proposal was met with fierce opposition from models and agencies alike. This final version allows doctors to take the weight, body shape and age of the models into consideration when writing the medical note. This new legislation also applies to digitally altered images which must now be labelled as ‘touched-up’.
I think it’s about time some serious rules were introduced to the industry – not only for the sake of the naïve eyes which see these campaigns with ridiculously skinny models, but also for the ridiculously skinny models themselves. It is clear that this is a step in the right direction for modelling (Spain, Italy and Israel already have similar legislation in place), especially considering anorexia and other eating disorders still pose a real problem, particularly in modern Western societies. There are too many people, younger women in particular, who aspire to be like these models, sometimes without understanding the dangers they are putting themselves in by doing so.
Take the story of Isabelle Caro, a French model who suffered from anorexia, who unfortunately passed away in 2010. It is believed the eating disorder was a contributing factor to her death. I was shocked to discover that she was part of an anti-anorexia ad campaign during Milan Fashion Week 2007 whilst she herself was battling the eating disorder. It is understandable that photographer Oliviero Toscani would have wanted to use a ‘genuine’ anorexia sufferer to show how serious the eating disorder is; however, I feel Caro herself should never have been labelled a ‘model’ for the campaign – surely that sends out the wrong message from the start?
So France follows in the footsteps of some of its European neighbours with this new bill, but there remains a very long way to go before we see change throughout the modelling world.