Fashion Diet

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: July 9th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

France has long been known as the world capital of haute couture, and for the reed-thin women who model the clothes. But now the French government is taking steps to end the practice of extreme dieting in the name of fashion.

In April, the lower house of French parliament passed a bill banning anyone… including fashion magazines, designers and Web sites… from promoting images of ultra-thinness. If signed into law, the proposal would give judges the power to imprison and fine offenders up to forty-seven-thousand dollars if found guilty of inciting others to deprive themselves of food to an excessive degree.

Industry experts say it’s the strongest measure taken so far to prevent eating disorders among high-fashion models. But France isn’t the first to discourage extreme dieting. After a Brazilian model’s death in 2006, organizers of Spain’s Madrid fashion shows required models to have a body mass index of at least eighteen before they could strut down a catwalk.

Doctors and psychologists who treat eating disorders are applauding the move, although some have expressed concerns about whether the new law is enforceable.

The bill’s author said the goal is to call attention to Web sites that promote extreme dieting, including one that teaches girls how to survive on nothing but an apple a day.

Doctors hope the trend toward discouraging unhealthy dieting continues. The Academy for Eating Disorders has suggested several guidelines, including requiring models to be at least sixteen and using models of all sizes at fashion shows.