No health clearance, no ultra-thin models

The Bill stipulates that models must get a medical certificate from a doctor stating that they are healthy and images of models that are altered to "make the silhouette narrower or wider" should be labelled as "touched up".
The Bill stipulates that models must get a medical certificate from a doctor stating that they are healthy and images of models that are altered to "make the silhouette narrower or wider" should be labelled as "touched up".PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • French lawmakers have adopted a Bill forcing ultra-thin models to provide a doctor's certificate confirming they are healthy, and magazines that Photoshop their images to tag them 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 practise of the (modelling) profession".

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

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

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'No health clearance, no ultra-thin models'. Print Edition | Subscribe