With obesity on rise, Paris reflects on mirrored 'fatphobia'

A plus-size model presents a creation during a fashion show as part of a day against fat phobia in Paris, France, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. Paris, the seat of global luxury industries and one of the world's most image-conscious cities, is looking at its contradictions in the mirror with rising obesity levels and is launching a campaign against an often disregarded kind of discrimination: sizeism. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Image-conscious Paris has launched a public awareness campaign to counter an often disregarded form of discrimination: sizeism

PARIS — France gave the world butter croissants and foie gras, yet it has often been a place where being overweight was seen as almost sinful.

Now, after taking a hard look at the contradictions in the mirror, its capital has launched a campaign to counter sizeism, an often disregarded kind of discrimination in the image-conscious city known for luxury fashion brands and tiny waists.

Paris anti-discrimination chief Helene Bidard began the initiative after falling victim to weight-related insults and noticing how bias against French people who are overweight went unnoticed, never mind unpunished.

"We see fat people as ugly and even stupid, lacking hygiene and in bad health," Bidard said.

As part of its annual week devoted to raising awareness about discrimination, Paris on Friday unveiled its "Fatphobia, stop! Taking action together" campaign with a plus-size fashion show and panels featuring bloggers from the "body positive" movement. Fifty thousand leaflets with legal advice and helpline numbers are set to be distributed at sports centers, night clubs, swimming pools and bistros.

The effort, which is aimed at countering both casual and institutionalized discrimination, comes amid rising obesity rates in France. The National Institute of Health and Medical Research reported that nearly 16 percent of the adult population was obese last year, compared to 6 percent in 1980. But thinness ideals persist.

"There's this French paradox where you're supposed to eat foie gras, but you're not supposed to get fat," said curvy French blogger Daria Marx.

Marx said that while a 2011 French law prohibits job discrimination based on physical appearance, employers often get around it by prioritizing job applications that contain candidates' photos.

Calling it "discrimination," she cited research that concluded that fat people are 15 times less likely to be called back for interviews if they include their photos.

Doctors also can deny in vitro fertilization to women who are deemed overweight.

To challenge the images of small-sized beauty propagated by fashion houses such Paris-based Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Dior, organizers of Friday's event put on a big-is-beautiful runway show with plus-size clothes specially made by designers such as Ewa Minge.

"In France, it's very difficult (to buy clothes.) I only shop on the internet" or shops in London, Marx said.

French luxury giants recently woke up to the potential dangers of encouraging excessive thinness. Since Oct 1, French fashion conglomerates LVMH and Kering stopped hiring excessively thin models and now require models to provide medical certificates to prove they are healthy before they can work. The companies said they hoped to set a new global standard for the fashion industry.

The move garnered praise at Paris Fashion Week, including during the show for the collection by Stella McCartney, whose house is owned by Kering.

"The community in fashion needs to look after these young women ... whether that be their emotional health, their mental health or their physical health," McCartney told The Associated Press.

The French law initially included a minimum body mass index requirement, but it was removed after lawmakers deemed the doctor's certificate an adequate safeguard.

Though discrimination against fat people is a real documented problem in France— a book about growing up fat in France entitled "You're Not Born Fat" became an unexpected sensation — some remain skeptical.

"There is no problem of sizeism in Paris," image consultant Emery Dolige said. "Does eating well make you fat? No. On the contrary. Our American friends often demonstrate that."

___

Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K

Related News

Daughter of Motown stars to Detroit students: Find your beat

Aug 11, 2016

The daughter of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and one of its biggest stars, Diana Ross, says young Detroiters should learn about their city's rich artistic legacy _ then forge their own path

Stephen Colbert, Showtime in talks for live election special

Aug 11, 2016

Showtime is in talks with Stephen Colbert to host a live election-night comedy special, the channel's chief executive says

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah each land a Showtime series

Aug 11, 2016

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah will each star in their own half-hour comedy series for Showtime

You may also like these

Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan gets US apology for airport stop

Aug 12, 2016

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan tweeted that he gets detained at U.S. airports "every damn time" after he was stopped at the Los Angeles International Airport

Nate Parker accepts Sundance award, creates youth fellowship

Aug 12, 2016

The writer, director, producer and star of "The Birth of a Nation" says the Sundance Institute offered him encouragement and support when he needed it most, and now he hopes to pass that opportunity onto the next generation of filmmakers

After storm halts tribute, A-Rod doubles in Yanks' finale

Aug 13, 2016

His pregame tribute ended by a storm, Alex Rodriguez began his final game with the New York Yankees by hitting a tying first-inning double

Our trendy reporters are fashionistas who love gossips as much as you do. We don’t just report the news, but we report it uniquely so you can read with style, only in Trendy Reporter.

Contact us: sales@trendyreporter.com

Entertainment Award Shows Celebrity Fashion Shows Movies Music Television Programs Press Releases