France Redefines Model Health Standards

France has finally joined many nations striving to promote a healthy body image and prevent eating disorders with new laws being enforced. French models will now require a valid doctors certificate stating that they are in a safe weight range, as well as being generally physically healthy. Commercial publications must now state if an image has been altered, and pro-anorexia websites are being targeted.  Anyone caught not upholding these laws will face massive fines and even potential jail time.

These new laws hope to present more realistic and healthy beauty standards to young and impressionable fashion consumers. Many however are against the consideration of a model’s Body Mass Index to determine their health.

The BMI is a widely disputed health indicator, as many other factors can change the number without a person actually being unhealthy. Similarly a healthy BMI is often not an indicator that someone does not have an eating disorder.

Isabelle Saint-Felix, the head of France’s National Union of Modeling Agencies feels that these new policies will not effect much change.

“It’s important that the models are healthy,” she said. “But it’s a little simplistic to think there won’t be any more anorexics if we get rid of very thin models.”

Many models also feel discriminated against by these policies. Lindsey Scott was a healthy college athlete and working model, with a BMI lower then what would normally be considered healthy. If the BMI remains to be the key way a models health is determined, many careers could be unfairly put in jeopardy.

While these changes to the modeling industry have admirable goals, it is clear that there are many valid concerns that need addressing. It is hoped, primarily in the modelling community, that they will continue to develop and become more considerate and inclusive.