The fashion industry has a major impact on self-image. It sets unattainable goals for what is hanging in our wardrobes and what our bodies look like too. The body shapes seen in the media and on the catwalk glorify severely underweight models, effectively promoting unhealthy lifestyle choices and contributing to eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
This week news broke that models working in France as well as the rest of the European Union will be required to have medical certificates stating that they are healthy and not underweight. They will be using body-mass-index (BMI) measurements to prove this in models over the age of 16. While using the BMI is not always accurate, it is at least a step in the right direction to regulate an industry that has for years required its models to be unhealthily thin.
The law was first proposed in 2015 and now it has finally been made official. Another new law states that fashion and beauty images used in print advertising that have been edited have to be explicitly labelled as having been retouched. If fashion houses and ad agencies fail to comply with this legislation, they will face a fine of over R500 000. If models not certified as healthy are used, they will be fined over
R1 million or face a six-month jail sentence.
The French fashion industry is on the leading edge of both the European and global industry. The fact that it is recognising this problem and more actively protecting the models on whom their livelihood depends is a massive step forward. The hope is that there will be a ripple effect throughout the world, which could drastically change what we see on runways and in our glossies. Finally!