The controversial bill AB 2539 models itself after policies that have already been approved in Spain, Italy, and France to enforce weight restrictions on models in the fashion industry. The bill is sponsored by assemblyman Marc Levine, who says that the beauty standards that models and the rest of the fashion industry present to the public are unnatural and nearly impossible to attain.
The new bill would require all working models to obtain a physician's certification that they don't suffer from an eating disorder. Regular counseling on nutrition and general medical checkups would also be required under the new bill. Modeling agencies would be responsible for keeping the certifications in order for each of their models, or risk being fined for violating the requirements.
The severely underweight appearance of many models in the industry, especially the high fashion industry, has had many concerned for some time. Many believe that the unhealthy looking bodies of models sends a negative message to young women about what their own bodies should look like.
Assemblyman Levine believes that it's the appearance of high fashion models in magazines and on runways that is leading many young women to develop eating disorders in an attempt to reach those impossible body standards themselves.
Levine believes that passing the bill in California would be a big step toward making progress in changing the types of images people see in fashion and elsewhere. He believes that California is a state that influences trends worldwide, and that passing the bill would hopefully encourage other states to do the same.
So far, a few supporters in the fashion industry have spoken up in support of the bill, including model Nikki DuBose. DuBose has appeared in publications such as Maxim, ELLE, and Vanity Fair, and says that she developed anorexia herself after being criticized for being too curvy as a model. She says it became difficult for her to find work because her body didn't fit the standards imposed by the industry.
After recovering from her disorder, DuBose began speaking out and writing about the prevalence of eating disorders in the fashion industry. She says that many models become anorexic not only to fit into the industry's standards, but also because many models do not have access to health care or other support for their well being.
The new bill being promoted by assemblyman Levine is similar to policies recently passed in Europe. In France last year, a bill requiring models to submit medical proof of a healthy body mass to height ratio was passed.
Other parts of the French bill included a fine for any individual who promotes anorexia and other eating disorders on websites. Other European countries are following suit and cracking down on the use of anorexic models in prominent publications and other media outlets.
Any modeling agency that violates the new restrictions faces heavy fines, and even jail time. Agencies in France are now required to only use models with BMI's of 18.5 or higher, which is considered to be within a healthy range.
The California bill does not include a proposed BMI for the new guideline. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals with pro anorexia sites or social media posts suffer from eating disorders themselves. It is not clear how those individuals would be punished by the law.
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