France could become the latest country to ban the use of underweight fashion models.
New legislation debated in Parliament would require modeling agencies to get medical certificates from models proving that their body mass index is at least 18, about 55 kg (121 lb) for a height of 1.75 meters (5.7 feet), which is the recognised classification as underweight. Health Minister Marisol Touraine says the ban would protect young women who see models as the ideal female form. Plus, many models in France are still in their teens.
Dr. Olivier Veran, a doctor and French lawmaker who's proposing the measures, said it's time to put a stop to the practice of pressuring models to be so thin that it's dangerous for their health.
"We want to combat the idea that an agency could urge a model to stop eating; for example eating cotton balls to lose their appetite, to always lose more weight," he said.
Agencies would be liable for fines of up to €75,000 and staff could face six months in jail for breaching the law. The proposed amendments are expected to be part of a health reform bill which will be presented in parliament's lower house on March 31. A previous draft bill on the same issue never got to a vote by parliament in 2008.
If this legislation comes to pass, France would be joining other European nations, including Spain and Italy which have already enacted restrictions similar to the Paris proposal. Madrid's fashion week first banned skinny models in 2006, when 30 per cent of the previous year's entrants were turned away.
In 2007, Isabelle Caro, an anorexic 28-year-old former French fashion model, sparked controversy when in 2007 she died after posing for a photographic campaign to raise awareness about the illness.
..... Devashree Goenka