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France Considers A Ban On Overly Skinny Models

Models wear creations for Masha Ma's fall-winter 2015-2016 ready to wear fashion collection during Paris fashion week, Paris, France, on March 11. Under proposed legislation in France, models would have to get routine checkups. Christophe Ena/AP hide caption

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Christophe Ena/AP

Models wear creations for Masha Ma's fall-winter 2015-2016 ready to wear fashion collection during Paris fashion week, Paris, France, on March 11. Under proposed legislation in France, models would have to get routine checkups.

Christophe Ena/AP

France is considering banning the use of anorexic models in the fashion industry.

Legislation debated Tuesday in France's Parliament would require modeling agencies to get medical certificates from models to prove that they have a body mass index of at least 18. And models would have to get routine checkups. Agencies that violate the law would be subject to fines of up to 75,000 euros ($80,968) and even prison time.

Websites and online forums that glorify anorexia and other eating disorders also would be banned.

The changes were proposed by Socialist lawmaker and neurologist Olivier Véran and added as amendments to the health bill before Parliament. France24 quotes Véran as saying that "between 30,000 and 40,000 people" in France, most of them teenagers, suffer from anorexia.

French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said this week that she supports the amendments.

The body mass index is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight. A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight.

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A Pedestrian walks past a Nolita advertisement during Spring/Summer fashion week on Sept. 26, 2007 in Milan, Italy. Isabelle Caro, 27, was photographed for Flash & Partners' Italian clothing company's label Nolita. The company said they are running a campaign to raise the issue of the fashion industry's responsibility for anorexia. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images hide caption

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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

A Pedestrian walks past a Nolita advertisement during Spring/Summer fashion week on Sept. 26, 2007 in Milan, Italy. Isabelle Caro, 27, was photographed for Flash & Partners' Italian clothing company's label Nolita. The company said they are running a campaign to raise the issue of the fashion industry's responsibility for anorexia.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

This isn't the first time eating disorders in the modeling world have made headlines in France. French model Isabelle Caro, who suffered from anorexia, sparked controversy when she posed nude in 2007 for a campaign to raise awareness about the eating disorder. She died in 2010 at the age of 28.

As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reported in 2006, organizers of the Madrid Fashion Week in September were the first to ban underweight models.

If the health measure passes, France would join Spain, Italy and Israel as countries with laws against the use of extremely thin models.