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by Melissa Mejia, staff writer

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 regional government.

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 pounds.

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 work.”

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.”



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