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How New French Laws are Promoting Body-Positivity in the Modeling Industry

France has always been known for its fashion. When thinking of Paris, one thinks of good food, the Eiffel Tower, and in many cases, luxurious style. However, with the technological developments in the past decades, fashion and beauty seem to have become synonymous to impractically thin bodies. Many medical professionals, such as those at the AMA, have expressed concern that the promotion of these body types can lead to negative body image and even eating disorders or body dysmorphia. And while the idea that photoshopped images can solely cause these disorders has been argued, it is hardly debatable that the spread of these images does not impact body image positively.

With Paris being one of the top “fashion cities,” it would be understandable that this is a common concept within the culture. Since fashion is so relevant to everyday life there, it would logically be of a larger concern. On October first, a new law requiring any “commercial photos of models that have been digitally altered to appear thinner or thicker” to be labelled as retouched has been passed. This law is truly a step in the right direction of addressing unrealistic body images within popular media and making clear that the dimensions are, in fact, altered.

Not only has France taken a stand on the (over)use of Photoshop among models, multiple companies have begun using only unretouchted photos in their advertising. Companies such as Aerie, Seventeen Magazine and Darling Magazine have stopped using edited photos of their models to promote body positivity and the celebration of people’s natural selves.

And while digital editing is still a major problem in the fashion industry, we should also be concerned for the literal model. Strict standards in high fashion typically require runway models to have extremely low body mass indexes (the average runway model has a body mass index (BMI) of 16, which the World Health Organization classifies as severely thin). Another victory for France was in May of 2017, when French models were required to provide an authentic medical form stating that they were indeed in good health and specifically not under weight. And while other countries have measurements regarding models’ well-beings, this new rule in France is notable considering that France is thought of as the “home of fashion.”

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” said super-model Kate Moss. But while this mindset is blatantly apparent in the fashion industry, it is still harmful enough for multiple laws needing to have been passed to restrict the industry’s power to wield this thought throughout popular culture. From provoking harmful mindsets to onlookers, to endangering the very people who uphold the business, is this portrayal really worth it?

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CeCe Shilling
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17 year old Sunflower enthusiast. Aspiring Gloria Steinem.

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