At the end of 2015, the French Government passed a new bill that models working within the country must provide a medical certificate deeming them to be fit, and healthy to be able to work within the industry. This was done in bid to prevent the use of extremely thin models. And photos that are edited to make models look a certain way must be labelled as touched-up or photoshopped.
The medical certificate will mainly be based on the model’s BMI to see if they are fit enough to be in the industry. This does not mean that there is a minimum BMI, instead it leaves it up to the doctors to take into consideration numerous factors including height, weight, age and body shape to deem who is fit. If a modelling agency is found to be employing models without a medical certificate, then they would be fined of more than £50,000, or would be given a prison sentence of up to six months.
The reasons for the law being put in place has been done to try and reduce down the number of models suffering from anorexia, and the number of people suffering from eating disorders globally. In France, it has been estimated that around 30,000 to 40,000 people suffer from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that, also, has the highest death rate among all mental health illnesses. Previously, models were appearing in the fashion industry seriously undernourished and dangerously underweight. As a result, we’re glamourising an anorexic body, and encouraging already ill individuals that an anorexic body is desirable.
However, there are people who work within the industry who disagree that this new bill will change anything. As Marie-Rose Moro, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist has stated that “It would be better to provide more resources to care for anorexic patients,” and that there should be “more awareness to eating disorders in society” instead. Because eating disorders do not just hold physical complications, they are mainly a psychological problem, and people are going to suffer from anorexia whether there are stick thin models in the fashion industry or not, because eating disorders are a lot more complex than just a desire to look like a model, as they are usually caused by many other issues such as low self esteem, or feelings of worthlessness. As a result, this change may not have any influence.
eating disorders are a lot more complex than just a desire to look like a model
Also, these images of stick thin models are consistently appearing on pro-ana sites, therefore adding to to an anorexic mindset that these bodies are acceptable. But, Xavier Pommereau, a psychiatrist has said that “The girls who go on to these sites are already sick.” Therefore, the new bill may not have a significant influence on the number of people suffering from eating disorder, as it is only the ones that are already ill that are getting effected by these images, and they are the ones that need help regardless of whether they see these stick thin models or not.
What both of the psychiatrists are saying is true however: is it even healthy to allow ill individuals to be posted everywhere in the media? And, no longer glorifying anorexia in the media may not stop people from suffering from eating disorders. But, it is helping to create more awareness of just how serious eating disorders are. As the French bill is helping to spread the message out there that being severely underweight, and dangerously malnourished from starving yourself should not be glorified or desired. Instead, it should be taken seriously as an illness that needs treating.
As a result, the UK should look at this new bill and follow on and do the same. As anorexia is a very serious mental health illness that is fatal when not treated. As shown in the case of Luisel Ramos who was a model and died from heart failure caused by anorexia nervosa, while participating in a fashion show on the 2nd August 2006. As a consequence, the Madrid fashion week adopted a minimum BMI of 18 for all models. This is just one of the consequences that being underweight and severely under-nourished can have on someone, and can it lead to fatalities. By creating these laws, they are not just protecting the public, but also the models that are under the pressure to be that thin, and harming their health.
by creating these Laws, they are not just protecting the public, but also the models
Furthermore, within the UK, Beat has estimated that in 2015 more than 725,000 people are effected by eating disorders, and it has been found from research that 20% of those that are suffering from anorexia will die prematurely due to the illness. A large amount of those that are suffering will also suffer from other medical complication, for example kidney failure, heart complications, osteoporosis, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression, fatigue and lack of concentration, this just being some of the effects.
This shows that eating disorders are not to be admired, because they have serious effects on individuals, and can lead to serve outcomes if not taken seriously. Therefore, within the UK they should be looking at what other countries are enforcing to try and create more awareness for eating disorders too. And, by introducing laws like this, it is helping to protect those that are vulnerable to eating disorders.
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