Assemblyman Marc Levine seeks health standards for professional models

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Assemblyman Marc Levine says stronger legal protections are needed to safeguard the health of professional models. Why is the North Bay legislator getting involved in an issue that one might normally associate with Los Angeles or Manhattan?

Levine, D-San Rafael, said his interest was sparked by a conversation with some of the women on his staff.

“(We were talking) about the modeling industry and the images that were promoted, and we began doing more research on the effects of unrealistic expectations or what women are supposed to look like.”

Levine, a married father of two young children, said the legislation would serve two purposes: To protect models, making sure they aren’t asked to do things that would put their health at risk, and to make sure that the pictures of people’s bodies that children see are healthy ones.

“(Images) that we can be proud of,” Levine said.

More than two-thirds of elementary school-aged girls say photographs in magazines influence their concept of the ideal body shape, and nearly half say those pictures make them want to lose weight, according to data from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Levine’s bill, AB 2539, introduced Monday, would require the following:

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board and the State Department of Public Health would adopt a set of health standards for models.

Models would be required to receive a physician’s note certifying they meet the established standards.

Modeling agencies would be licensed by the California Labor Commissioner.

Modeling agencies would be required to keep health records, and could be find if they hire models who don’t have a current physician’s certificate.

Similar laws already exist in France, Italy, Israel, and Spain, Levine said.

“If we have images of models who are leading healthy lifestyles and not starving themselves, then young people won’t aspire to look like the unhealthy images that are pushed on them by marketing and by media,” Levine said.

“I want both my children to have a healthy image of what women and men should look like.”

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.

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