French parliament passed a bill on Thursday which requires models to get doctor's notes certifying that they are at a healthy weight for their height before they will be allowed to work in the country.
Publications will have to label photos which have been photoshopped to change models' silhouettes in any way, in addition to models getting doctors' certificates. Agence France-Presse writes:
The bill stipulates that models must obtain a medical certificate stating that their health, "assessed in particular in terms of body mass index, is compatible with the practice of the (modelling) profession".
The law has been met with controversy because it uses a model's Body Mass Index (BMI) as a major factor for doctors to decide whether or not models are healthy. In this final version of the bill, doctors are given a little more leeway in using other indicators, along with BMI, to decide whether or not a model is healthy (an earlier version of the bill set a minimum BMI of 18). Critics of the BMI system say that the height to weight ratio doesn't take into account muscle mass, metabolisms, or peoples' different body types.
The fact that the law sets out a maximum penalty of $81,000 and a six-month jail sentence has also drawn criticism. Denmark, for example, has taken a different approach, with its Danish Fashion Ethical Charter setting out industry standards and best practices, instead of laws punishable with fines and jail time. Refinery 29 writes:
Denmark's regulations are non-binding. In fact, they don't even rely on numbers or body weight at all. According to the charter, the goal is "to raise awareness and influence attitudes in the fashion industry, as well as in the media and in society in general." These updated rules include regular medical checkups for all models under 25, the promise of healthy food on shoots, compulsory monetary wages (no work in exchange for clothing), and more.
Other countries, including Spain, Israel, and Italy have also taken steps like France to put in place legal health requirements for models, the BBC reports.