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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Can a Model Be Too Skinny?

Here is some old news from February, 2007, that I thought was still very pertinent. Maybe, finally, someone has come to their senses about the absurd condition of some top fashion models. In 2007, the organizers of Spain's top annual fashion show, the Pasarela Cibeles, rejected five models as being too thin to appear in the event. Officials had decided earlier not to allow women below a predetermined body mass index (a body mass-to-height ratio of 18) to parade down the catwalk. The show wanted to project an image of beauty, elegance and health, and also banned makeup that makes models appear sickly, organizer Cuca Solana said. The show is seen by at least six million people on television. The organizers feared that a young girl who watched the show may think extreme thinness is a definition of beauty and may even make herself ill as a result. "We want models to project an image of beauty and health and shun a gaunt, emaciated look," organizers stressed. (ABC News) "Excessively thin models aren't good for society and don't correspond with reality," said model Raquel Brel (a model who had passed the test), adding she knew of models who only ate an apple a day while working. Harold Heckle, Associated Press writer, reported that doctors Susana Monereo of Spain's National Endocrinology Society and Basilio Moreno, an obesity consultant at Gregorio Maranon Hospital, were among the specialists called on to medically assess the models. According to Dr. Monereo, "Placing too much emphasis on being thin is a serious heath risk. Not only because it is related to illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia but because it is also linked to problems with fertility, hormone imbalance and osteoporosis." In her opinion it is a social problem whose solution ultimately depends on everyone. In November 2006, 21-year-old Ana Carolina Reston, a top Brazilian model, died as a result of anorexia. At the time of her death she weighed only 88 pounds.

Five of the 69 models who showed up for appraisal failed the test, the doctors said. The models were over 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed less than 121.25 pounds, Monereo said. The five models had come from working at a New York fashion show and two of them had taken part in 25 shows before flying to Madrid for the assessment, said Leonor Perez Pita, director of Pasarela Cibeles.

"They had a body mass index below, well below, that which is considered normal not just by the Spanish endocrinology society, whom we represent, but also by the limits set by the World Health Organization,"Monereo said.

Following News

And, the next year at the Pasarela Cibeles, none of the 61 models were eliminated at weight checks. Some of Spain's top fashion models, such as Veronica Blume and Argentine-born Martina Klein, still refused to participate in the Pasarela Cibeles, because they do not want to be weighed, the daily El Pais reported. (Digital Journal)

In general, however, the fuller-bodied models have become totally accepted, organizers said. Madrid's example has also encouraged attempts to promote healthier beauty ideals in other fashion capitals, such as London and Milan. "The result is positive, so say the administration and associations representing victims of anorexia and other eating disorders," designer Modesto Lomba explained.
And, in 2008, following an agreement by fashion houses and media to stop promoting waiflike models, France’s parliament began to pass tough enforcement measures. In early April, French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot signed a voluntary charter with fashion houses, advertising agencies and the media to ban “images of people, in particular youth, that could contribute to promoting a model of extreme thinness.” (findingDulcinea Staff, April 16 2008) But French legislator Valérie Boyer wants to go farther, and is pushing a bill that would punish means of mass communication - magazines, blogs, Web sites - that promote eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia while "inciting others to deprive themselves of food" with imprisonment for up to three years and a fine up to $70,000. If passed, the law will be the world’s toughest regulation of models’ body weight, adding momentum to voluntary skinny-model bans recently adopted in Milan and Madrid. Still, some call such bans discriminatory. New York and London say they will leave the use of “size 0” models up to designers, and the British Fashion Council says it “does not comment or interfere in the aesthetic of any designer’s show.” Cathy Gould of New York’s Elite modeling agency argues that bans are “discriminatory” against naturally thin women, and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman protests, “It would be like saying you can't have black or white models.” London hasn't passed such a law but they now do not allow catwalk models to be under the age of 16 while the U.S. has begun serving "healthy food" to models backstage at fashion events and has banned cigarettes and alcohol.
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