France, the country famous for the slimness of its women, recently made headlines for its measure to prevent an unhealthy degree of thinness among models, especially runway models. The country has now made it mandatory for models to present a doctor’s certificate of good health. Agencies are required to follow the new guidelines, failing which, they will be penalised. That has prompted us to ask the Indian fashion fraternity, is such a measure necessary for Indian models?
The average Indian model is perceived as being too skinny by the average Indian. But designers say that no, Indian runway models are not too thin, and definitely not anorexic.
The ball had started rolling in France when in February this year, American model and researcher Sara Ziff published a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorder. She conducted a survey of 85 female models at the New York Fashion Week, with the aim of gaining insight into the prevalence of eating disorders in the modelling industry. Her focus was on ‘what causes them and what can be done to prevent it’.
The study by Ziff prompted an open letter that was signed by more than 40 leading models. Karen Elson, Carré Otis, Caitriona Balfe, Missy Rayder were among those who signed it. And earlier this month, France finally passed legislation, banning the trend of extremely skinny models. Here’s what leading Indian designers, models and model coordinators have to say on the question of excessive thinness and whether India needs a similar measure.
Indian designers say...
This French law is path-breaking and will help aspiring models in France to be aware about the consequences of being too skinny. This will also reduce the pressure of being skinny in their country. As for India, our models have never been the skinny type, and it’s not in our culture or our body type. We don’t need this law. We are in a far more positive mind space. —Nikhil Mehra, Designer
For France, yes, it’s a good move as their industry is extremely competitive and the models are under immense pressure all the time. But not India. I think our industry is in a good state. We embrace all body types. In fact, my perception is that our models are healthy. —Anupama Dayal, Designer
Indian models say...
If France has decided to pass this law, then it’s their choice. From my experience, I think the girls definitely make an effort to take care of themselves. As for India, we don’t require it. Our models are healthy. Besides our culture is different from theirs. —Sapna Kumar, Model
I feel the legal aspect of getting a certificate from the doctor to prove one’s physical and mental health is a bit too much. Otherwise, it’s good because it will reduce the pressure of being skinny in France. As for India, I think we are lucky. We have models who are healthy. Some of the models who walk the ramp are themselves fitness trainers. So, no, we don’t require a law like this. —Sonalika Sahay, Model
Indian model co-ordinators say...
For France, it’s a great move. Models these days are under a lot of pressure to look good. This move will finally make the girls realise that one should not compromise on their health. In India, I don’t think we need a law, but we definitely need some of kind a programme to spread awareness regarding this. —Pranav Awasthi, founder of a modelling agency
The French modelling industry is rigid. This move will ensure that models can finally stop sacrificing their health for looks. I am pleased that France has finally decided to act on it. However, the Indian market is different. We are not obsessed with the skinny type. In fact, our models are healthy. I don’t think India requires a law like this. —Nitin Sarna, founder of a modelling agency