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French Law Banning Super-Thin Models Takes Effect

Do you trust the BMI?

via Flickr user (cc) Mainstream

The average American is now exposed to more than 3,000 advertisements a day, creating what Killing Us Softly author Jean Kilbourne calls a “toxic cultural environment.” This constant bombardment with unrealistic body images does irreparable damage to women’s psyches, whether conscious or subconscious. “Women and girls compare themselves to these images every day,” Kilbourne said. “And failure to live up to them is inevitable because they are based on a flawlessness that doesn’t exist.”

A new law that just took effect in France hopes to address the negative impact that advertising has on women’s body images. Models are now required to provide a doctor’s certificate proving they are at a healthy body mass index (BMI) in order to work. The doctor’s BMI will be compared to the World Health Organization’s guidelines to determine if the model passes certification. Employers who violate the new law could face up to six months in prison and a €75,000 fine ($82,000).

On October 1, the French commitment to presenting realistic images of women will be taken a step further. Magazines, advertisements, and websites will have to mark images in which a model’s image has been retouched. “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behavior,” France’s minister of social affairs and health, Marisol Touraine, told The Guardian.

In a statement released on Friday, Touraine added: “These two texts aim to act on body image in society to avoid the promotion of inaccessible beauty ideals and to prevent anorexia in young people. The objective is also to protect the health of a sector of the population particularly at risk – models.”

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