Models who are “too thin” have been a subject of contention for as long as I can remember, so when an entire country decides to make a law against them, you know it’s going to create a stir. However, no matter how thrown the fashion industry may be by this potential ban, it’s a huge win for body positivity advocates everywhere.
Ironically France, which is usually at the forefront of fashion trends, will be one of the last in Europe to adopt this more health-conscious one. Over the last few years, Israel, Spain and Italy have all decided to put an end to unhealthy body images in their fashion and advertising campaigns by setting the minimum BMI (body mass index) a model can be at 18.5. For reference, that is the lowest the World Health Organization will consider “healthy.”
However, the law in France would be slightly more lenient on models by making their BMI limit 18 or higher, because France has to be slightly edgier than everyone else. In order to work legally after this bill is passed, models will have to present notes from licensed doctors stating they indeed weigh the limit or above. Furthermore, models will be subjected to periodic weigh-ins to make sure they’re staying within the healthy range, according to neurologist Olivier Véran, a member of the Socialist party who wrote the amendments in France. I remember hearing about how showgirls would get fired in Vegas for putting on a pound or two. This feels like the ultimate retribution for absurdly unhealthy (not to mention unethical) work standards like that.
Anyone caught hiring models who don’t meet this weight criteria will be subject to fines that could go as high as 75,000 euros, and/or spend up to six months in prison. I’m sure every fashion mogul in France would sooner wear polyester for six months rather than spend that time in a prison jumpsuit (even though jumpsuits are very in this season).
But the bill won’t begin and end with model health. It will also go after websites promoting anorexia, and other public platforms that uphold “extreme thinness” in any way. Individuals behind such websites and organizations could face up to 10,000 euros in fines, and/or a year in prison. And after you’ve had a year of prison food, I imagine you’ll never tell people to turn their noses up at good food again.
The bill is set to go before the Assemblée nationale on March 31, just in time to have a huge effect on Paris Fashion Week — deemed by the industry as one of the most influential times of year for fashion. Officials say it’s likely to go through, and if it does, be prepared for some epic hissy fits from designers. However, the ones who embrace the change could have a major hand in helping to eradicate eating disorders.
P.S. Now it’s your turn to jump on this trend, America.