In a move that places it in line with many other European countries, France has instituted a law that bans underweight fashion models. Those that violate the new law face strict penalties for doing so.
As of January 1, 2017 (or sooner), any model applying for work in France must submit medical certificates ensuring that they are in proper health and have a body mass index (BMI) that is deemed appropriate (in general, a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight). Any agency or fashion house that violates the new law is subject to a fine of 75,000 euros and six months imprisonment.
In addition to the law regarding models, all commercial photographs featuring models whose bodies have been altered to be smaller or larger must have a caption that states "retouched photograph." Violations of this law will be subject to a fine of 37,500 euros.
While 90 percent of the models who work in French fashion shows are foreign-based and thus, not subject to these new regulations, the law is a step in the right direction. Furthermore, as Israel, Italy, and Spain have all adopted similar laws, I hope that the whole of Europe (and the rest of the world) makes this standard practice. I find the new retouching law quite important as well, as it could substantially impact the social course of photography, advertising, and retail in France.
Lead image by Flickr user Liton Ali, used under Creative Commons.