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Surprising Science

France Proposes Minimum BMI For Fashion Models

Will a law regulating the BMI of models help change an industry obsessed with beauty and unhealthy weight ideals? France thinks it might.

In a move to combat eating disorders and unhealthy ambitions in the name of beauty, France has considered enacting a law to regulate models’ BMIs. Caroline Pham from reports that if this proposal were to become law, models with a BMI under 18 would be banned from working and any agency found employing them would come under a hefty fine of up to 75,000 euros.

The Atlantic‘s David A. Graham put the number in perspective:

“For a woman who stands 5-foot-2, a BMI of about 18 would require weighing about 100 pounds.”

As a woman who stands 5-foot-3 and weighs 125 pounds, that number seems unattainable, and a bit unhealthy — I’d be a twig.

It’s no secret, though, that young women are influenced by these fashion figures on the covers of magazines. But when they look in the mirror at the end of the day and what they see doesn’t reflect what’s in these publications, some will be influenced to try and attain that aesthetic ideal. What’s more, it’s known that many of the images in magazines have been retouched to fit the “ideal” of beauty. 

Pham writes that she’s skeptical about the potential law:

“While any positive efforts in this realm are commendable in spirit, one can’t help but wonder whether this represents anything greater than a symbolic gesture.”

She goes on to point out how Italy, Israel, and Spain have all enacted similar laws, but the progress (or lack thereof) is hard to quantify or measure. Even if models did make the 18-point cut, who’s to say that in post those images won’t be reworked to reflect something completely different?

The hope is that the law will help bring about the beginning of something. But, according to Jennifer Sky, a model and actress on the show Cleopatra 2525, the modeling industry in the United States has a long way to go — beyond just weight regulation.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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