A SCOTS model has condemned a “shocking” move by the French government to ban women from the catwalk who are deemed too thin.
A new legislation in France means that bosses of modelling agencies could face time behind bars for employing models with a body mass index below 18.
Laura Paterson, who has a BMI of 16.5, said people often remarked that she “needed a good feed” or “some meat on her bones” – but she insists that at 5ft 9in tall and 8st, she is perfectly fit and healthy.
The 22-year-old from Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire, was shocked when she found out thinner models in France were being singled out.
Laura, who also works as a production management assistant, said: “I think it is shocking they are picking on models under a BMI of 18. I certainly won’t be going to work in France any time soon if that’s their attitude.
“I was very surprised when I heard that this new law had been passed in France. I feel so sorry for the girls over there. It is a tough industry.
“People can be so judgemental. I feel very fit and healthy – I am 8st but that is just my metabolism. I certainly don’t starve myself, I enjoy my meals but take everything in moderation.
“I also do circuit training classes a few times a week because I like my body to be tones and it’s good for my health.
“I can’t believe the French authorities are picking on these girls, because, like me, it is maybe just the way they are made and they like to look after themselves.”
The former Miss Scotland 2013 second runner-up said she was plagued with comments about her figure after photos of her were posted online.
She said: “When pictures of me were put online after the event members of the public were commenting about my legs being too thin and I needed a good feed. It makes me frustrated because people assume I’m unhealthy and I shouldn’t be doing this job, but it’s just the way I am and how I’ve always been.
“People think I don’t eat enough, but I eat like a horse. I have three meals a day and fruit in between. I treat myself but I am quite disciplined. Everything in moderation.
“I worry there are young girls out there being exploited and encouraged to be skinny. I don’t think there is a problem in Scotland because both agencies I have been with encourage you to eat healthily and not to starve yourself.”
Doctors say a BMI of 18.5 to 25 is healthy. The average BMI for French women is 23.9, while in the UK it is 26.9.
Anyone with a BMI of 18 is classed as malnourished by the World Health Organisation and the famine level is set at 16.
According to the NHS BMI calculator, Laura’s healthy weight range is 8st 13lb to 12st 2lb.
The French legislation also clamps down on “thinspiration” websites that encourage eating disorders by praising women with stick-like limbs and jutting hip-bones.
Politician Olivier Veran, who is also a neurologist, has proposed models should be required to present medical certificates demonstrating a healthy BMI.
He said: “A level of acceptable body mass index should be set and enforced.
“Websites encouraging young girls to lose weight should also be banned.”