You may remember back in 2015, France promised to ban the use of unhealthy thin fashion models. Well as of this week, the law has come into effect. Models will now need to provide a doctor's certificate attesting to their overall physical health, looking specifically at their BMI (body mass index), which is a measure of weight in relation to their height.
The law also means, and this is my favourite bit, that digitally altered images will have to be labelled from October 1st. Images in which a model's appearance has been manipulated will need the label "photographie retouchée, which of course means: retouched photograph in English.
The first version of this bill in 2015 received a backlash from models but this one, backed by MPs puts the power in the hands of doctors. Now, employers breaking the law could face fines of up to €75,000 (£63,000) and up to six months in jail.
Marisol Touraine, Minister of Social Affairs and Health in France said in a media report: "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 and behaviour."
Statistics in France suggest that anorexia affects between 30,000 to 40,000 people in France, 90% of whom are women. They are not the first country to legislate on underweight models, Italy, Spain and Israel have already doe so.
Initially when I read this story I was concerned that it would receive another backlash, that people would scream out that this was 'thin-shaming' and that France were being unfair by doing this. That models were being forbidden from doing something simply because of their weight... (the very thing body shamers would do...) But thinking back to some of the fashion shows that we have seen recently, (*hrhum* Victoria Beckham) I can't help but feel that this is good news. Not least of all because every day we hear from yet more models who were told that they had to lose yet more weight in order to get a job in one of these shows. This is not, as it first seems as it is not the models that are being punished here, it is the companies. For a very long time we have had unrealistic body standards thrown down our throat and the fact that the French Government have acknowledged the dangers of that has got to be a good thing.
The fact that retouched images now have to be labelled however, I believe is the greatest thing ever. It is one thing for us to see crazy thin models walking the catwalk but it is quite another seeing the same models photoshopped to make them even more 'perfect'. I met Abbey Clancey IRL once and thought that she was the single most beautiful woman in the world. I then saw a photo of her in a magazine, where she had been photoshopped and I remember thinking: if they' having to photoshop her, this GODDESS, can you imagine the work that they would need to do on me??? THAT is causing a LOT of problems. So the fact that companies now have to label them? That really is great. Finally, we'll get a chance to see through this shit.
Now I suppose we can only hope that Britain follow France's lead and do something like this here. It cannot be a bad thing, it has taken a very long time for this to be acknowledged and I think it would be a very welcome change in the UK fashion industry.