Other countries including Israel and Spain have taken similar action. The French measure would only apply within France, but could have symbolic impact beyond, because of its outsized influence in setting style and image trends around the world.
The lower house of Parliament adopted the amendment on models Friday, as part of a larger public health bill working its way through the legislature. The bill goes to a full vote next week, and then goes to the Senate.
The amendment forbids anyone with a body mass index below a certain level from earning money as a model. The level — based on height and weight — has not yet been defined.
Any modeling agency or person who pays a model below that index would face up to six months in prison and 75,000 euros in fines if convicted.
Lawmakers adopted a related amendment earlier this week targeting those who run pro-anorexia websites, and another that would require publications to publish a note telling readers when they have altered a picture to make a model look thinner — or less anorexic.
Similar anti-anorexia measures in 2008 failed to get final approval in the French legislature, and this effort has also met resistance, including from health professionals who fear it will further stigmatize anorexic youth and make it harder to diagnose and treat them.
An estimated up to 40,000 people have anorexia in France, 90 per cent of them women, according to the health ministry.
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