Several cities with world-renowned fashion
weeks have been responding to growing concerns about models
developing unhealthy eating habits to maintain their “rail-thin” bodies.
Many of the models featured in runway shows have been underweight,
and some have died.
Fashion is a mirror, and many teenagers imitate what they see
on the catwalk,” said Concha Guerra, an official of Madrid’s
Madrid was the first location to issue guidelines for the models
who appeared in their semiannual Madrid Fashion Week in September.
Regional government officials used the recommendations of the
World Health Organization’s body mass index (BMI) to determine
the appropriate weight of a model for his or her height.
The municipal government of Milan, Italy also took action in
recent months to regulate the fashion industry’s use of
the model image. Milan’s Mayor, Letizia Moratti, stated
that it was time to stop “offering the public an unhealthy
model.” The models working the runways at the city’s
December fashion week had to have a BMI of 18 to 22 percent,
which means a 5-foot-6 inch model could weigh no less than 122
From February 2-9, New York had its semiannual fashion week at
Bryant Park. Before the show, the Council of Fashion Designers
of America (CFDA), which includes some of the most influential
designers, released a list of recommendations that suggested
more education on eating disorders, serving healthier snacks
backstage, and keeping models under the age of 16 from appearing
on the runway.
The CFDA Health Initiative is about awareness and education,
not policing,” said a CFDA news release announcing the
recommendations. “Therefore, the committee is not recommending
that models get a doctor’s assessment to be permitted to
London Fashion Week organizers announced that they did recognize their responsibility
to help promote a healthy body image. They issued a statement similar to the
CFDA saying that while they would not ban “ultra-thin” models from
London Fashion Week, they would endorse the CFDA recommendations.
Susan Fyfe, an HPU junior economics major, applauded the new changes happening
in the fashion industry. “It’s encouraging better health for the
models,” she said.
However, others feel that fashion and reality are two different things. Angela
Sorace a journalism major from Italy, says, “People think that fashion
designers are setting the standard of beauty,” she said, “but their
objective is showing off the clothes.”
Sorace said that women who are models choose the lifestyle, which includes agreeing
to the rules of their agency, signing contracts, and maintaining their bodies.
She deplored the new regulations because people should not look up to anorexic
models. She continued, “people don’t understand that the purpose
of models is to just show off the clothes.”