Skinny French models must provide doctor’s note to prove they are healthy under new law

  • New law requires all models to obtain certificate to prove they’re healthy
  • Originally stipulated minimum BMI, which was criticized by industry
  • Magazines photoshopping bodies must mark this on the images 
  • Breaking law punishable of up to six months in jail or 75,000 euro fine

France has passed a law requiring models to obtain a doctor’s certificate to prove they are not suffering from eating disorders.

A new bill adopted on Thursday forces all models to get a medical professional to sign off that they are healthy.

The original draft of the law had stipulated that models needed a minimum body mass index of 18, but it was criticized as a ‘healthy’ BMI does not equal a healthy body.

New law: Fashion models in France will now be required by law to provide a doctor's note stating that they are of a healthy weight (pictured is a model at Paris Fashion Week in October, not related to the article)

Body Mass Index is not necessarily an indication of health or an eating disorder, as it does not take into account a person’s age, bone structure, muscle mass or fat percentage.

When the law was first voted through in the lower house of Parliament in April this year, it proposed a minimum BMI of 18 for all models, which was met with howls of protests from the fashion industry.

‘I was an All-American 400m runner at 5-foot-9 and 108 pounds during college. Perfectly healthy but still way under an 18 BMI,’ model Lyndsay Scott told Cosmopolitan.

‘Even people with eating disorders can have a so-called healthy BMI.’

In the end parliamentarians agreed to let doctors make the call on whether a model is too thin, taking into account a range of criteria, including age, gender and body shape.

 Change: The law had originally stated the need for a minimum BMI of 18 for models, but this was changed after it was pointed out that BMI is not necessarily an indicator of a healthy body (pictured are models at PFW)

Risky game: Breaches of the law will be punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a  £54,320 fine (pictured are models at PFW)

Risky game: Breaches of the law will be punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a  £54,320 fine (pictured are models at PFW)

The bill stipulates that models must obtain a medical certificate stating that their health, ‘assessed in particular in terms of body mass index, is compatible with the practise of the (modelling) profession’.

The new law also requires magazines using Photoshop and other similar software to ‘make the silhouette narrower or wider’ should be labelled ‘touched up.’

Breaches of the law will be punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros (£54,320).

An earlier version of the bill also made it an offence punishable by up to a year in jail to encourage excessive thinness, a measure aimed at ‘pro-ana’ websites that are seen extolling and promoting anorexia or bulimia.

That proposal too was excised from the text adopted by the National Assembly or lower house of parliament on Thursday.

In France, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people – almost all of them adolescents – suffer from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder with a high mortality rate.

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