france bans underweight models
The French parliament has approved a measure that will make it a crime for fashion agencies to use dangerously thin or undernourished models.
In a further effort to combat anorexia, the new law will make it illegal to promote anorexia on the internet, and will require agencies to clearly mark all photos that have been retouched to alter body shape.
The law has not yet determined the minimum BMI for models, but under World Health Organization guidelines an adult BMI below 17 is 'severely malnourished.' The average model measuring 5ft 9in and weighing 50kg (110 pounds) has a BMI of 16.
Agencies who use underweight models will face a fine of $81,000 and staff face up to six months in jail. Anyone 'glorifying anorexia' on the internet will face a fine and jail time 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.
Naturally, French modelling agencies are criticizing the new measures, complaining that it's a mistake to confuse thinness with anorexia. And psychiatrists who have spoken out on the controversy agree that such laws will do nothing to curb anorexia.
If only eating disorders could be legislated away! Anorexia is a potentially fatal condition and the number of sufferers is disturbing. Images of thin models do send messages about body image that tie in to how women view themselves. But the pursuit of beauty will continue, however dangerous and dubious the efforts involved.
Anorexia is a complicated psychogenic illness that calls for more public outreach and less stigmatization. It's too bad lawmakers don't turn their energies in that direction.
What do you think, Popdust readers?