For years the fashion industry’s use of stick-thin models has sparked a heated a debate.
Critics say the practice encourages an unhealthy body image and eating disorders, while some in the fashion world argue clothes hang better on tall, skinny women.
In May France became the latest country to pass legislation banning the use of fashion models deemed to be “excessively thin”.
The move has received much praise and support from around the world and has led to calls in other countries for governments to do the same.
But France isn’t the first country to pass legislation on underweight models – Italy, Spain and Israel have all done so.
Other countries, such as Denmark and the US, have taken a slightly different approach that focuses more on peer pressure and less on forcing the fashion industry’s hand through legislation.
A law banning the hiring of ultra-thin models in France came into effect in May this year.
Models must present a valid medical certificate proving that they are fit to work, provided by a doctor who must make a decision based on their body mass index (BMI), age and body shape.
Companies could be fined up to €75,000 or its bosses jailed for up to six months if they breach the law.
Images where a model’s appearance has been altered using photo editing software also have to be labeled as a ‘retouched photograph’.
The French health ministry says the changes in legislation aim to fight eating disorders and inaccessible ideals of beauty.
Major French fashion houses LVMH and Kering behind labels including Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent this week have said they would stop using underweight models for their catwalk shows worldwide.
Antoine Arnault (LVMH) on the well-being of models: “We have the responsibility of building new standards.”https://t.co/atjvAM4yXB pic.twitter.com/yjt7mPJNRQ— LVMH (@LVMH) 6 septembre 2017
Spain became the first country to enforce a ban on excessively thin models in 2006, sending shockwaves across the fashion world.
The Spanish Association of Fashion Designers decided to turn away underweight models who had a BMI of less than 18 at Madrid fashion.
Nearly a third of models were banned from taking to the catwalk in the first year the rule was introduced.