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France

French lawmakers debate ban on ultra-thin models

Models during the Paris Fashion Week, 11 March 2015.
Models during the Paris Fashion Week, 11 March 2015. Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

French lawmakers are to debate on Tuesday a ban on ultra-thin catwalk models. Health minister Marisol Touraine said she will support the two amendment initiatives - both part of a broader health law discussed this week.

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"I believe that models should eat well and look after their health",  Touraine told French news channel BFMTV on Tuesday.

One of the amendments would prevent model agencies employing ultra-skinny models and force them to provide a medical certificate for each model or face a punishment of up to six months in prison and a 75,000 euro-fine. 

But it could affect the competitiveness of French modelling in the world's fashion capital, argue the agencies.

"French modelling agencies are in permanent competition with their European counterparts. As a result, a Europe-wide approach is needed" said the National Union of Modelling Agencies.

The second amendment would outlaw websites advocating anorexia and make it a crime to promote excessive thinness, as up to 40,000 French people suffer from anorexia - mostly teenagers.

"The image the fashion industry gives, where women have to be pathologically thin to be beautiful (...) has a strong social impact", says Olivier Veran, the Socialist MP proposing the amendments.

Although "we shouldn't mix things up" said Gerald Marie former European head of Elite Agency. "There is anorexia and there are girls who are (...) very thin naturally and you can make them eat all day they would stay thin" said Marie, adding "one needs to define anorexia and see that it is a psychological disorder."

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