We are happy to announce that the fashion industry is slowly, but surely, showing signs of protecting women’s body image through legal reform, and we couldn’t be more proud!
In December 2015, new laws that regulate the fashion industry’s impact on body image were passed by the parliament in France – the world’s fashion capital. This had unprecedented written all over it and we are, obviously, strong supporters. These laws are set to come into force in 2017 and aim to fight unhealthy body image as well as eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.
These laws require models to provide a medical certificate indicating that their health “assessed in particular in terms of body mass index (BMI),” is compatible with the practice of the [modelling] profession” prior to being employed. BMI is the best indicator of whether an individual is underweight, which is why it serves as the measure for these laws. However, some argue that BMI may be unnecessarily discriminatory to naturally thin models and does not best detect particular eating disorders, which have psychological roots in addition to their physical impacts.
These regulations are slightly similar to Israel’s Act Limiting Weight in the Modelling Industry, known as the “Photoshop Law”, which was implemented in 2013. However, these laws have two distinct differences. Firstly, while the French law requires the aforementioned medical certificates, the Photoshop Law of Israel imposes a strict minimum BMI of 18.5 for models. Secondly, while the Photoshop Law has only civil penalties, the French law carries much more severe consequences of possible jail sentences of up to six months and fines of up to 75,000 euros for people or businesses in violation.
Additionally, Australia has yet to follow in the footsteps of Israel and France, though it has already implemented a voluntary code of conduct for combatting an unhealthy body image. Sadly, however, the code’s impact has been underwhelming.
We sincerely hope that more countries are encouraged by Israel and France’s progressive steps toward this pressing issue and that the power for social media can raise the necessary awareness.
What do you think about these laws? What steps do you think should be taken in the future?