Capitol Alert

California bill to combat eating disorders in modeling stalls

Lawmakers on Friday shelved a bill that would have set more strict health and employment standards for fashion models in California.

Assembly Bill 2539 would have required health specialists to establish health and safety standards regarding health care privacy, the protection of minors from sexual exploitation and sexual predators, and the prevention and treatment of eating disorders.

The bill would also have classified models as employees rather than independent contractors, which would have given them more recourse to demand minimum wage payment and seek past owed wages.

Several models spoke out in favor of the bill, saying they had been pressured to stay “dangerously” thin in the industry. Talent agencies and the Association of Talent Agents were in opposition. Legislative analysis said the organization objected to the inflexibility of classifying models as employees regardless of the job, the lack of definition of what constitutes being “healthy,” and the extra work modeling agencies would be saddled with to check that each model meets health standards.

France recently passed regulations requiring models to get a doctor’s note certifying that they are of a healthy weight before being eligible to work. Companies employing models without a doctor’s certification can face hefty fines and jail time. Israel has enacted similar laws that added a minimum Body Mass Index (BMI) requirement.

In a legislative analysis, author Assmeblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, said the purpose of the bill was to protect the health and well-being of models, and to change the messages the fashion industry sends about health and beauty.

The deaths of two models in the early 2000s from eating disorders ignited an international discussion on health in the modeling industry.

Rachel Cohrs: 916-321-1046, @rachelcohrs