If you’re in France and are working as a model, you better not be too skinny.
That’s the ruling made by the National Assembly in Paris on Friday last, May 5. Indeed, catwalk kings and queens looking for work will now need to provide a doctor’s note proving they’re not medically underweight.
Yes, instead of allocating a minimum BMI for practising models (as has been done via similar legislation in the likes of Germany and Spain) it will be at the discretion of each model’s doctor to decide if he/she weighs enough to work.
This might seem like a radical course of action but eating disorders have become so rampant in the fashion industry, new measures are clearly needed.
So the question now is not so much if the move merited (it is) – and more so, is it even enough?
We know there has been years and years of favouritism towards thinner and thinner models – the same models who look incredibly young and sport jutting ribcages, thigh gaps, and pokey collarbones.
Let’s not forgot – as a glance at high-street mannequins and sensational advertisements will attest – that this issue is most certainly not confined to the catwalk either.
So it would be naive to assume that this law will automatically transform archaic industry attitudes. However, at least it seems a gentle, small step in the right direction.
In 2015, model of the moment, Gigi Hadid penned an honest open letter to her Instagram followers, sharing her frustration with people judging her body.
“Yes, I have boobs, I have abs, I have a butt, I have thighs but I’m not asking for special treatment”.
The model received an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the post but again, this made or little no difference to the bigger picture (no pun intended): models still face insane amount of pressure to fit into sample sizing.
Unsurprisingly, this week there has been a huge response to the new French law; on social a lot of people agreed that this a positive move very much in the right direction.
However, what is of concern is an undercurrent of that nauseating “you can never be too rich or too thin” concept.
The rest of the world needs to follow French law on banning ultra skinny models ASAP. Can’t stand to see more and more starving models.
— Anna (@AnnaNikitaa) July 29, 2015
Fashion students support proposed French law banning underweight models
— SeatGeek (@AllieLebtres) May 1, 2015
I get that by the nature of their business, a lot of models are naturally slim due to genetics. There are, for example, many athletes whose physiques also defy normal standards.
It’s just that fashion is an industry that rewards the thin disproportionately and casts aside those who don’t fit its idea of aesthetic perfection.
Speaking to Motto previously, Erin Heatherton said that when she was modelling for Victoria’s Secret, she was told to lose weight for two shows.
“I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me.
“And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat”.
Shortly after those comments, she quit her much-coveted job as a VS angel.
Thankfully, models are no longer on the same pedestals that they once were, and young women today have a stellar amount of role models to choose from – including businesswomen, humanitarians, actresses, singers, artists, and authors.
This French law should be commended for it has raised the thorny issue of a model’s weight… but there is a long road ahead before we see any real change in the fashion industry.