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(REUTERS/Neil Hall)

Fashion forward

France ushers in 2 decrees that seek to protect models’ health

May 9, 2017

While France was in the throes of a heated presidential election, the country quietly passed two decrees that seek to protect models from the fashion industry’s potentially dangerous thinness standards.

Models are now required to present a medical certificate that attests to their general health. For models older than 16, the certificate must specify body mass index (BMI), a calculation that purports to help physicians determine whether a patient is maintaining a healthy weight (the efficacy of BMI has been hotly contested).

A second law will require commercial images that have been digitally altered to indicate as such on the photograph.

These measures are not without potential drawbacks. “It is possible that insisting that models be ‘certified’ by yet another authority figure will simply add to the concerns, again putting someone other than the model in the position of judging her health,” fashion critic Vanessa Friedman writes in The New York Times. And the retouching laws do not apply to editorial images in magazines and newspapers, which are far more coveted among models than commercial gigs.

But S. Bryn Austin, director of the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders at Harvard’s School of Public Health, told Friedman that the laws are a step in the right direction. “France is saying to the fashion and advertising industries that it’s time they acted responsibly toward the people on whom their livelihoods depend,” she said.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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