Models must have doctor's note to prove they are not too thin, France rules

A new law in France says models must have a doctor’s certificate to prove they are a healthy weight.
A new law in France says models must have a doctor’s certificate to prove they are a healthy weight. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (GUARDIAN) - French lawmakers on Thursday (Dec 17) adopted a bill forcing models to provide a doctor's certificate confirming they are healthy, and magazines to label Photoshopped images as "touched up".

The bill stipulates that models must obtain a medical certificate stating that their health, "assessed in particular in terms of body mass index, is compatible with the practice of the [modelling] profession".

Breaches of the law will be punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros (S$115,138).

The lawmakers also voted that images of models that are altered to "make the silhouette narrower or wider" should be labelled "touched up".

An earlier draft of the bill had prompted protests from the fashion industry by proposing that a minimum body mass index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight) be imposed for models.

In the end, parliamentarians agreed to let doctors make the call on whether a model is too thin, taking into account a range of criteria, including age, gender and body shape.

An earlier version of the bill also made it an offence punishable by up to a year in jail to encourage excessive thinness, a measure aimed at "pro-ana" websites that are seen extolling and promoting anorexia or bulimia.

That proposal too was excised from the text adopted by the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, on Thursday.

In France, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people - almost all of them adolescents - suffer from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder with a high mortality rate.