This law was first floated about a year ago, but today the French law to ban under weight models has come into play. The law aims to stop the glamourising of extremely thin models. And is especially poignant because statistics suggest that France has around 30,000 to 40,000 cases of anorexia, with 90% of those suffering, women.
But what does this actually mean, how is it enforceable and how does this effect the plus size industry?
For starters models will have to carry a doctor’s certificate regarding their health, with a particular nod to BMI (body mass index), a measure of weight, in relation to height and with most working fashion models in the 5’10 and above ball park, the BMI measurement has been used as quite a lynch pin in this scenario.
The French health ministry have enforced the ruling to tackle the industries worrying beauty standards and are serious about tackling eating disorders. In addition to legislating the models, there is also a law from October 1st that means that retouched images will have to be marked as retouched.
Originally the law that was put forward gave a minimum BMI as way of making the decision on a models health, but luckily, after much objection, this was changed to allow doctors to have the deciding vote, taking into account a larger set of factors.
France joins the likes of Italy and Spain in legislating against ultra thin beauty ideals in the modelling industry and agents who break the law could end up in jail and with a hefty fine.
But what still remains unclear is how this will work exactly. Problems that could arise, include who pays for this medical certification and how often will it be carried out. With models already given a percentage of earnings to their agencies and then often paying back for accommodation, test shoots, biking of portfolios and printing on top of the percentage share of earnings is this another way that models will be further penalised. In addition to this, will there be set doctors, or will it be up to individual models or agencies, will there be an over arching agency to keep tabs? As it is something that can’t really have hard and fast tick box guidelines it could be quite a hard thing to enforce properly.
Equally, as the plus size industry continues to grow, we have to be careful that models on the other end of the spectrum don’t fall victim to being judged solely on size too, as the media circus around obesity is constantly going it might not be long before we see certification suggested on the opposite end of the spectrum too. It becomes all too easy to make health assumptions based on weight and physicality and we must be careful to keep separating physicality from over all health.
While we totally agree that models receiving health checks is a great way of adding to models support network, we have to be careful that they aren’t victimised during this process. Body shaming on either side of scale is not ok and young working models need to be offered support and guidance not shame and judgement.