Absolutely. Madrid’s Fashion week announcement to ban ultra-skinny models from it’s catwalks in September last year caused tremors in the fashion world. Models with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 18 would not be allowed to walk. Lanky 5-foot-9 models weighing in at less than 125 pounds (56kg) were therefore sent away. The ban was enforced in an attempt to promote beauty and health. Emaciated models in magazines and fashion shows are said to be linked to eating-disorders when impressionable young women try to emulate these looks, and consequently starve themselves to “super-model thinness”.
As a result, Milan, Paris, New York and London have also been forced to look carefully at the issue of underweight models at their fashion shows. However, fashion councils in various countries are not in agreement:
“I think its outrageous, I understand they want to set this tone of healthy beautiful women, but what about discrimination against the model and what about the freedom of the designer,” said Gould, Elite’s North America director, adding that the move could harm careers of naturally “gazelle-like” models.
Organizers of London Fashion Week announced their position on Sunday, stating that ultra–skinny models would not be banned from Autumn 2007 collections next week.
“We believe that regulation is neither desirable nor enforceable. What will make a difference is the commitment of the fashion industry to change attitudes through behaviour and education.”
Does the fashion industry have a responsibility to portray healthy body images? Should the industry stipulate precise guidelines for “healthy looking models”? Should these guidelines be enforced? Regulation of this sort seems to infringe the freedom of the industry participants, but without it the models seem skinnier every year.
Despite the lack of regulation for next weeks trend showcase in London, the British Fashion Council has added that it would…
“…consult health and eating disorder experts, members of the fashion industry, the media and young women in order to create new guidelines for the fashion industry”
Whether designers select healthy looking models to walk their creations this week remains to be seen. I’m looking forward to watching the weight debate unfold. What are your views on the skinny model controversy?