France joins the UK, Italy and Spain in signing agreement to end distribution of images that could encourage anorexia in young women
In France, too thin is no longer in. France is the latest country in Europe to join the fight against anorexia and bulimia in young women by agreeing to stop using images of too-thin models. With the participation of French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot, the fashion industry in France, along with the advertising industry, modeling agencies and media companies such as magazines, have signed a pact agreeing not to use images of models who are abnormally thin. Such images have been blamed in the US, France and elsewhere around the world for promoting an unattainable and unhealthy ideal for female beauty that has resulted in young girls starving themselves and developing long-term psychological problems related to their weight and body size.
As in other countries with similar agreements, the adherence to the pact in France is voluntary; however, it is hoped that peer pressure, long a force in the dispersion of the offending images in France, will now work the other way in making the images less common. The agreement is seen as a first step in a more general values shift in the industry and in the French culture. Signatories in France, which include the National Union of Modeling Agencies, The French Federation of Pret-a-Porter (ready to wear) fashion, and a regulatory watchdog agency for advertising standards in France, pledged to “reject the distribution of images of people, especially if they are young, that could promote a model of extreme thinness.”
While the sentiment against overly thin models is relatively new to France, it has been simmering for some time around the world, notably in the US, where the linkage between the media portrayal of the ideal female proportions and eating disorders in young women has been well-established for some time. Some advertisers, notably Dove brands (Unilever) with its “Campaign for Real Beauty” are embracing the values shift, promoting a new ideal of female beauty that is not as thin, not as young, and not as uniformly pretty as has been usual in France and elsewhere.
In France, where being thin is seen as a practically moral imperative among women, the fear of weight gain is not only to blame for eating disorders but also for continued smoking among women of all ages, who see smoking as a way to control their weight and quitting as equivalent with weight gain.
The same day as the agreement was signed in France, a law was proposed in the French parliament against “incitement to anorexia”.