France makes ‘pro-ana’ websites illegal

A new law has recently passed in France to try and stamp out ‘thinspiration’ websites, thought to encourage eating disorders. Online there are many websites that offer so-called beauty tips to young girls, including tips on starving themselves so they can get thin legs and a ‘thigh gap’.

France makes 'pro-ana' websites illegal

The new law means those who run sites like these could get a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of €10,000 (£7,344). The punishment is for “provoking people to excessive thinness by encouraging prolonged dietary restrictions that could expose them to a danger of death or directly impair their health.”

There was a second proposal made at the same time that wasn’t passed. This proposal intended to fine or imprison those employing undernourished fashion models. The measure would have required models to give employers medical certificates to prove their Body Mass Index (BMI). This was abandoned as it would violate France’s current employment law on discrimination in job recruitment.

Two Socialist members in favour of the successful proposal, Maud Oliver and Catherine Coutelle, insisted that it wouldn’t affect freedom of speech on the Internet. What it would do, they say, is help distinguish between sites that are harmful and celebrate anorexia, and those created to support women with eating disorders.

France is well known as a key country in the fashion world and has been criticised in the past for promoting excessively thin models. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld has recently spoken out to say the industry refuses to hire women who are anorexic.

In contrast to this, Ines Dauxerre, mother of Victoire (a former supermodel who suffered from anorexia) has said while talk of starvation diets are indeed taboo in the fashion world, they are praised for losing weight.

“There really is pressure on them. They are congratulated for losing weight. They are measured for their thigh circumference, but the fashion world won’t ever admit to it,” Ms Dauxerre told Europe 1.

Currently it is estimated that 40,000 people in France suffer from anorexia.

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Written by Katherine Nicholls

Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Counselling Directory and Happiful magazine.

Written by Katherine Nicholls

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