Too Skinny to Model: It’s About Time

In a surprising step forward towards recognizing the importance of women’s health, France has announced it will ban excessively thin women from modeling. Furthermore, lawmakers have said penalties of possible fines and jail time will be used to punish fashion houses and modeling agents for hiring exceedingly thin models.

Bans on excessively thin models

France is following in the footsteps of Israel, Italy, and Spain, all of which adopted laws for banning excessively thin models from gracing catwalks or being used in advertising campaigns back in 2013.

This move in France seems to have been prompted by a government effort to crack down on the problem of anorexia. In fact, in a separate move the government put regulations in place to make condoning anorexia illegal. In particular, this will target websites that encourage dangerous methods and measures for weight loss.

It is estimated that up to 40,000 people in France suffer from anorexia, with the majority being teenagers.

Making a healthy body weight a necessity

Originally, the lawmaker who promoted the bill said models would likely be required to provide medical documentation that they have a BMI of at least 18. That equates to a body weight of around 121 pounds for women with a height of 5 feet 7 inches. It was also said the documentation could be required before being hired for modeling jobs and throughout a few weeks following their hire.

The actual language of the bill 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.”

There was opposition to the bill from conservative parliamentarians, but it was passed and allows for sentencing of up to six months in jail and fines of 75,000 euros or $82,000 for any agencies that do not adhere to the new regulations.

A secondary measure in the bill allows for fines of up to 100,000 euros and sentencing of up to a year in prison for websites that encourage readers to, “seek excessive thinness by encouraging eating restrictions for a prolonged period of time, resulting in risk of mortality or damage to health.”

Cracking down on anorexia

The Mayo Clinic defines anorexia as “an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body weight.” According to the Mayo Clinic, people who suffer from anorexia place unusually high value on trying to control their body shape and weight by using extreme measures that often drastically interfere with their activities.

People suffering from anorexia will often try to control their weight or lose weight by putting severe restrictions on their dietary intake. Sometimes sufferers vomit or use medications to induce diarrhea, and have also been known to use excessive exercise to cause weight loss.

It is important to understand that people with anorexia aren’t really focusing on the food. Instead, their compulsion revolves around an unhealthy means of coping with emotional issues.

catwalk 8The importance of a healthy body weight

Body weight is calculated using waist circumference and BMI. To calculate your BMI, you multiply your weight in pounds by the number 703, then divide that total by the inches of your height squared (which means multiplying your height in inches by itself).

For example, a person weighing 120 pounds with a height of 5 feet 5 inches would calculate their BMI as 120 x 703 = 84,360 then divide by 4225 = BMI of 19.96 which is within the normal recommended weight range for that height.


BMI ranges are as follows:

  •        18.5 and under is considered the underweight category.
  •        18.5 through 24.9 is considered the normal recommended range for weight based on height.
  •        25 through 29.9 is considered to be in the overweight range.

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to maintain a healthy body weight in order to protect your life and your health. Being underweight can lead to a variety of serious health issues including:

  •        Fragile bones and osteoporosis
  •        A weak and insufficient immune system
  •        Fertility problems
  •        Iron deficiency and anemia
  •        Hair loss and inhibited growth.

– The Alternative Daily



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