France bans superthin models in anti-anorexia drive

Models on the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week
Models on the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week Reuters/Charles Platiau

France's parliament has voted to ban the use of fashion models considered to be excessively thin. Modelling agencies and fashion houses that hire them will face fines and even jail time if they are deemed to encourage anorexia, thanks to an amendment to a health law passed in the National Assembly on Friday,.


France follows Italy, Spain and Israel, which all adopted laws against skinny models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns in early 2013.

The measure is part of a wider crackdown on eating disorders backed by President François Hollande's government.

Women's rights in France - given or taken?

Anyone whose body mass index is below a certain level will not be able to work as a model in France.

And agencies found employing models considered too thin could face fines of up to 75,000 euros and a six-month jail sentence.

Photos that have been digitally manipulated to change a model's physical appearance whill have to indicate that they have done so.

Olivier Véran, the lawmaker behind the bill, said the prospect of such a punishment would help regulate the whole sector.

Not everyone shares that view. Paris is one of the world's fashion capitals. The national union of Modelling Agencies complains the law would affect the competitiveness of French modelling.

The ban follows an amendment, targeting websites that encourage dangerous weight loss, whereby people found guilty of inciting others to “extreme thinness” could face a year in prison and a 10,000 euro fine.

Around 40,000 people suffer from anorexia in France, the vast majority of them women.


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