Earlier this year, France threatened to ban too-thin models, and now it's making good on its word: the country just adopted a law banning skinny fashion models. When applying for a job in the country, models will need a medical certificate proving their overall health and an appropriate BMI.
Body-positive people everywhere, rejoice!
The new law threatens fines of 75,000 euros, or $81,076, and possible imprisonment of up to six months for modeling agencies or fashion houses who employ underweight models. It comes with regulations off the runway too—any commercial photos that have been photoshopped to make models appear a different size must be marked with the language "retouched photograph." Fines for those violations start at 37,500 euros, or $40,535, and will take effect sometime before January 2017.
The certification process and what actually constitutes an appropriate BMI are still being decided—the French National Authority for Health will issue a ruling and code of public health update. The World Health Organization deems a BMI under 18.5 "underweight" and anything under 16 "severely thin," and other countries with similar model regulations roughly follow this rule.
Israel, Italy, and Spain all put similar regulations in place—the Madrid Fashion Show bans women whose BMIs are below 18, while Milan's Fashion Week bans models with BMIs below 18.5.
BMI has been called out as an imperfect way to gauge health, but it could be one of the most consistent ways to determine models' health because it takes into account both weight and height, says David L. Katz, M.D., director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine and Shape advisory board member.
"Yes, BMI does not indicate body composition, and people can be heavier and healthier or thinner and unhealthy, but in this case it is a reliable way to defend against underweight models. It guards against the idea that the thinner you are the more likely you are to succeed as a fashion model," he said.
Between the rise of the athletic supermodel, Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass," and curve models taking a stand, body positivity is far from a passing trend, and the common thought of "the thinner the better" has offically fallen out of style. Finally, it seems the fashion world is hopping on board.
Merci, France, for paving the way to a healthier runway.