France: Thin Models Banned In An Effort To Prevent Eating Disorders

Lawmakers in France have banned thin models from working on the catwalk. Although the ban is meant to prevent eating disorders, including anorexia, modeling agencies are concerned that it will have a negative impact on their business.

Although the ban does not specifically define the term “thin,” the amendment states “the activity of model is banned for any person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is lower than levels proposed by health authorities and decreed by the ministers of health and labor.”

As reported by MSN, lawmakers previously stated that models will be required to prove they have “a BMI of at least 18.”

As reported by Khaljee, anorexia nervosa is a dangerous eating disorder, which affects an estimated 40,000 people in France alone. An estimated 90 percent of those suffering with anorexia are women and young girls.

Anorexia, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, “is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of body weight.”

People with anorexia often limit their calorie intake to lose a dangerous amount of weight. However, they may also resort to using diuretics, laxatives, and vomiting to further enhance their weight loss.

Unfortunately, anorexia can cause serious complications — including death. Common complications include anemia, loss of bone mass, and gastrointestinal distress. Prolonged anorexia can cause irreversible damage to the brain, heart, and kidneys.

Lawmakers hope France’s thin model ban will promote better health and reduce the number of people suffering from anorexia.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine said the ban “is an important message to young women who see these models as an aesthetic example.”

In addition to France’s thin model ban, the National Assembly imposed restrictions on websites that promote weight loss through a dangerous reduction in calorie intake. As stated in the amendment, modeling agencies and website owners will face harsh penalties for violating the law.

Agencies that violate the ban, by employing ultra-thin catwalk models, will be fined up to $75,000. Agency officials will also face up to six months in jail.

French websites that suggest “eating restrictions for a prolonged period of time, resulting in risk of mortality or damage to health” will also face harsh penalties. Website owners could be fined up to $100,000 and could be sentenced to a maximum of a year in prison.

France is not the first country to ban thin models. In the last three years, Israel, Italy, and Spain also banned the use of dangerously thin models on catwalks and in advertising campaigns.

[Image via Shutterstock]