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France requires models to prove they're not too skiny

By
Eric DuVall
A model walks the runway during Paris Fashion Week in January. The French government now requires models provide a doctor's note proving they are not too skinny or suffering from an eating disorder before they can work. File Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI
A model walks the runway during Paris Fashion Week in January. The French government now requires models provide a doctor's note proving they are not too skinny or suffering from an eating disorder before they can work. File Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- French lawmakers passed a bill that requires models to provide a doctor's note to prove they are healthy, a bid to crack down on dangerously skinny models in the nation's highly competitive fashion industry.

A second measure will require print and online publications to indicate when images of models have been altered with the phrase "retouched photograph."

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The requirement for models takes effect immediately, but the photo labels will not be required until October.

France's law follows similar measures passed in Italy and Spain. Unlike those countries, the French version stops short of requiring models to meet a minimum body mass index, only that a doctor has certified that the woman's BMI signals is in good health and is not suffering from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia.

An individual's body mass index is calculated by considering their gender, height, weight and age. A score of 18.5 indicates a person is underweight. A score of 18 means someone is malnourished. A score of 17 indicates someone is severely malnourished.

An average model who is 5-foot, 9-inches tall and weighs 110 lbs. would register a BMI of 16.

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French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said the model requirements are about more than protecting models themselves. When the fashion industry promotes unrealistic ideals of the female body it can have negative effects on women and girls who see it.

"Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behavior," Touraine said.

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