The French National Assembly adopted a bill last week that would make anorexia promoting publications illegal. Anyone who “incites” extreme thinness on websites, magazines, and in advertisements risks a punishment of up to three years in jail and 30,000 euros fines. The main purpose of the new measure seems to outlaw the French pro-anorexia web sites.
On pages like these, girls advice other girls how to get super – and dangerously – thin. Pictures of ultra-skinny stars like Kate Moss, Nicole Richie, the Olsen Twins, and Keira Knightley dominate the sites’ design. “There has been an explosion of these sites over the past year. They offer morbid advice to young girls on how to lie to their parents. It’s mental manipulation,” said right-wing deputy and author of the bill Valery Boyer to Agence France Press (AFP).
This revolutionary law has stirred quite a heavy debate in France. Socialists and the intelligentsia blame the right-wing parties for overseeing the problems. “In France, we know how to punish, we know how to treat, but we don’t seem to know much about prevention,” said psychiatrist Sophie Criquillion-Doublet to AFP. Next week, the law goes to the Senate, that will judge whether the law will be finally approved or not.
I think the law won’t hurt anyone, and might make the sites less accessible for young French girls. The fanatic pro-anorexia girls will find the international sites, forums and groups though. History has shown that effectively preventing certain content from the web is nearly impossible since it always finds its way to the audience. Therefore the law should just be seen as a statement and not so much as the end of the French pro-anorexia movement.