May 10, 2017
Working is hard enough to do without the fear of the industry with which you work causing you significant health problems. This is a predicament which faces people who work blue-collar jobs, but it’s also incredibly prevalent for those in the modeling industry.
The general layman wouldn’t think that those who are paid to, essentially, wear clothes, would be at risk for serious physical harm at work. But models, due to their involvement in an industry which requires them to fit into a certain, specified body shape, and that sort of pressure is detrimental to their health. Eating disorders run rampant in the industry, and many countries have been making efforts to ensure that the models working in their countries are safe from that danger.
The latest country to implement these security measures is France. Although the concept of having guidelines for the level of health has been something France has been working on since 2015, with the original guidelines including limitations on the body mass index (BMI) which the models needed to fall under in order to be legally allowed to work in the industry in France, the bill to enforce these laws only passed very recently.
The bill caused a lot of controversy when it was originally proposed, with many modeling agencies and fashion companies citing studies which proved that BMI is not an accurate indicator of overall health. The bill originally stated that models whose BMI fell under what was considered the “healthy” range would be banned from working. The current average model falls into the category of “severely malnourished.” While that seems shocking, companies refused to take the health of their models into account in their actions to push for the bill to not go through, and that’s truly terrible.
As Marisol Touraine, the French Minister of Social Affairs and Health, stated on Friday, “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.” According to the bill, between 30,000 to 40,000 people suffer from anorexia in France alone. It’s important that France is making efforts to maintain both the quality of life of the people working in their country, and the media consumers there, as well. As France plays such an integral part in the world’s fashion industry, this may be a turning point for the standards of the rest of the world.
The amended bill which passed doesn’t require models to fall within a specific range within the BMI scale. Rather, it requires a clean bill of health from a doctor, but also encourages the doctor to take the model’s BMI into account when confirming their work eligibility.
Employers who fail to comply with this law face up to $82,000 in fines and six months in prison.