French Fashion Industry Joins Move to Ban Extremely Thin Models

April 16, 2008 11:56 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Following an agreement by fashion houses and media to stop promoting waiflike models, France’s parliament is considering tough enforcement measures. But some call such bans discriminatory.

30-Second Summary

In early April, French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot signed a voluntary charter with fashion houses, advertising agencies and the media to ban “images of people, in particular youth, that could contribute to promoting a model of extreme thinness.”

But French legislator Valérie Boyer wants to go farther, and is pushing a bill that would punish anyone “inciting others to deprive themselves of food” with a fine of $47,000. If passed, the law will be the world’s toughest regulation of models’ body weight, adding momentum to voluntary skinny-model bans recently adopted in Milan and Madrid.

Such steps are seen by supporters as a way to combat fashion’s promotion of anorexia, an eating disorder that has claimed the lives of several celebrated models.

Madrid set the precedent in September 2006, forbidding models with a body-mass index below 18.5, medically considered underweight, from the catwalk at its fashion week, the Pasarele Cibeles.

Three of Milan’s most celebrated fashion houses, Armani, Prada and Versace, banned ultraskinny models in February 2007.

But New York and London say they will leave the use of “size 0” models up to designers, and the British Fashion Council says it “does not comment or interfere in the aesthetic of any designer’s show.”

Cathy Gould of New York’s Elite modeling agency argues that bans are “discriminatory” against naturally thin women, and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman protests, “It would be like saying you can't have black or white models.”

Headline Links: French fashion leaders take measures against ultrathin models

Video & Audio: Paris collections

Background: Spanish and Italian fashion industries forbid stick-thin models


Reactions: Fashion leaders debate banning ‘waiflike’ models

New York

Opinion & Analysis: Are bans ‘responsibility’ or ‘discrimination?’

Reference: Body Mass Index and health


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