The notion that you can never be too rich or too thin is widely credited to Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. Now the French government has taken the contrary view – at least to the second part – and ruled that inciting people to extreme thinness could be punishable by a year in prison and a fine of €10,000.
On Thursday deputies voted to amend a law on public health, thereby making it possible to punish anyone “provoking people to excessive thinness by encouraging prolonged dietary restrictions that could expose them to a danger of death or directly impair their health.”
Up to an estimated 40,000 people suffer from anorexia in France, nine out of 10 of them women and adolescent girls.
According to The Local news site, the law is designed to “take aim at … sites accused of encouraging excessive thinness.”
Deputies Maud Olivier and Catherine Coutelle were behind the amendment. They said that “certain sites known as ‘pro-Ana’ can push people into a vicious circle of anorexia and authorities cannot do anything about it.”
The new law is “necessary” and “will not call into question the idea of freedom of expression on the Internet.” It comes after France rejected a ban on skinny models after an outraged MP, who slammed the “glorification of anorexia”, proposed a law for France’s new health bill that would see modelling agencies hit with prison sentences if they hire underweight models.
The proposal – that would have stopped model agencies being able to employ models whose Body Mass Index (BMI) falls below a certain level – was rejected by French lawmakers in late March.