Kate Moss, one of the world’s reigning supermodels once infamously said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” But models will be free to order Big Macs now that France has passed a law banning “too thin” models on fashion runways.
The law is positioned as a measure to combat anorexia and targets both the fashion and media industries with strict penalties for promoting excessive dieting.
The move could have international repercussions because France is a leading capital of fashion along with New York, London and Milan. Some estimates put its worth at tens of billions of dollars, according to Reuters.
In a swipe at fashion magazines, lawmakers also decreed that any magazine that alters a model’s physical appearance for commercial purposes must include a statement that the image has been manipulated.
PhotoShopping, as the process is known after the name of a well-known digital editing software, is rampant among fashion and celebrity magazines around the world. Critics blame digital editing for creating unrealistic standards for body image that teens and others try desperately to emulate.
Models will now have to present a medical certificate stating that their BMI, or body mass index, is 18 or better before being allowed to work. That works out to about 120 pounds for a five-foot, seven-inch tall woman.
Violations will be punishable by up to six months in jail and an $80,000 fine for agencies representing underweight models.
So called pro-anorexia or thinspiration Web sites will also face up to a year in prison and fines in excess of $100,000 for “encouraging eating restrictions for a prolonged period of time, resulting in risk of mortality or damage to health.”
In 2010, model Inga Radziejewski went public with her dream to walk Europe’s famous fashion catwalks and how it turned into a nightmare of excessive dieting and anorexia to meet the fashion industry’s weight demands.
The 5-foot, 11-inch tall model starved herself down to a skeletal 98 pounds and a size 00, yet she says she was still turned down for modeling jobs because she was considered too fat.
The issue has long haunted the industry going back to the 1990s when the waif look swept fashion and helped launched models such as Moss. But in recent years, even those standards of thinness no longer seem to apply.
Italy and Spain have passed similar measures and other countries, including the United States rely on voluntary standards.
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