UPDATE: It's official: France will outlaw excessively thin fashion models and start levying fines on agencies and fashion houses who continue to hire them, according to WWD.
The country is joining Italy, Spain and Israel (who passed similar laws in 2013) in taking measures to curtail the culture of super-skinny models on the catwalk and in advertising campaigns.
Under this new legislation, which passed early this morning in Parliament, models must present medical proof of a BMI of at least 18 to be hired for a job. Fashion house and agency professionals that overlook the new ruling could face up to $82,000 in fines or even six months in prison.
France may be taking a stand against the culture of ultra-thin on the catwalk.
According to Reuters, the country is likely to pass a bill that will ban super-skinny models on the runway—by enforcing regular weight checks—and hand down fines to fashion houses and agencies that continue to hire models that are too thin.
On March 16, France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine opened up to BFM TV about the significance of the impending law: "It's important for fashion models to say that they need to eat well and take care of their health, especially for young women who look to the models as an aesthetic ideal," she said. (Well-spoken.) The health legislation was put forth for debate in parliament today.
If passed, the law will ensure that models meet a BMI of 18 and weigh at least 121 pounds for a height of 5'7". France will be in good company, too: Italy, Spain and Israel have already adopted similar laws prohibiting ultra-thin models on the runway.
The proposed legislation comes eight years after the death of former French model Isabelle Caro, who suffered from anorexia. Before her death, she posed for a campaign for the Italian brand Toscanito to promote awareness about eating disorders in the industry.
And a 2012 study done by researchers at the London School of Economics showed that campaign and runway images of super-skinny models do indeed affect body image ideals for women and young girls, which suggests that banning too-skinny models from the runway may lead to fewer cases of body dysmorphia and encourage a more realistic, inclusive and healthy view of the female body.
This is, after all, a new dawn in fashion, where plus-size and "in-between" models are appearing in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, dominating ad campaigns and donning bikinis and underwear sets in front of the camera.
It's about time, right?
(Originally published March 17, 2015, at 2:38 p.m. PT)