France 24:-Starting Sunday, any commercial photo that has been digitally retouched will have to bear a label, according to a new French law that aims to help combat destructive body images and eating disorders.
As of October 1 “it will be mandatory to use the label ‘retouched photo’ alongside any photo used for commercial purposes when the body of a model has been modified by an image-editing software to either slim or flesh out her figure,” said the French Ministry of Health in a statement published last May. This law applies to photos published both in magazines and online. Anyone who violates the law could receive a fine of up to 37,500 euros.
For these girls the problem begins when they aspire to have bodies that in reality have been computer edited and, therefore, aren’t real or attainable. But trying to sort the ‘real’ from the ‘faked’ has become increasingly difficult when in the past 25 years, editing and airbrushing models and their bodies has become the norm in both the advertising and fashion industries.
France is also seeking to make sure the models themselves are healthier. Another law which took effect in May requires French or European models working in France to present a medical certificate attesting to their health. The doctor who signs off on the certificate must pay extra attention to the model’s Body Mass Index (BMI).
According to the World Health Organization, a person is considered unhealthily skinny if their BMI is less than 18.5.
These two laws were actually approved in January 2016, but were not implemented until this year.
This is not France’s first attempt to combat eating disorders. A 2015 law punishes anyone who incites excessive thinness especially those who run pro-anorexia websites with up to a year in jail and a fine of more than 10,000 euros.
Recently, French fashion companies have also been taking steps to regulate the industry itself. Ahead of New York Fashion Week this September, a host of French-owned fashion labels from Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent pledged to ban ultra-thin models from their ads and shows as part of a charter drafted by two French conglomerates. The charter by LVH and Kering, who, together, own dozens of top brands would also outlaw using girls under the age of 16 to model adult clothes. Moreover, it stipulates that models under the age of 18 should be accompanied by a guardian or chaperone and should not be served alcohol.
In tandem with these reforms, more and more women in France have been breaking taboos to speak out about their own experiences with eating disorders. One is former model Victoire Maçon-Dauxerre, a strong supporter of the new French laws. In 2016, Maçon-Dauxerre published a book called “Never Thin Enough, The Diary of a Top Model” in which she recounts her own descent into anorexia. In an attempt to get modelling gigs, Maçon-Dauxerre started dieting, which spiraled, until she was only eating three apples a day. After a suicide attempt, she left her career in fashion and, eventually, started on a journey towards healing. In September, French YouTube star EnjoyPhoenix (whose real name Marie Lopez) also went public with her struggles with an eating disorder in a video watched by more than a million of her followers.
In a similar vein, another French woman, Gabrielle Deydier, just published a book in France called “You’re Not Born Fat”, which details what she describes as France’s particular fear of being overweight, or “grossphobia” (sizeism). She is not the first person to write about the struggles of being female, French and fat.
Other countries are also taking steps to regulate the body images projected by the fashion industry. In 2012, Israel became the first country to pass laws banning too-thin models and regulating the use of Photoshop and image editing in media and advertising. Belgium, Spain and Italy are among several countries that legislate models’ BMI.