Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fashion group backs curbs on teen models

As manager of the Australian Fashion Council, Zoe Edquist sees more child models than most. Today she has been contemplating the recommendations that have been made by the Model Health Inquiry in Britain.

Their report, which was commissioned by the British fashion industry and released this week, suggests that models under the age of 16 be banned from the catwalk.
This is in order to protect them from the more undesirable aspects of the industry - illicit drug use and the potential to be overly sexualised or develop eating disorders.

Ms Edquist says their suggestion is a step in the right direction.

"I'm not sure about an outright ban, but I think that definitely there does need to be some regulations in place to make sure that young, vulnerable, underage girls aren't exploited by the fashion industry," she said.

"I think that it's probably a sensible move."

Australian and international modelling agent Stephen Bucknall agrees.

"I think that it is heading in the right direction," he said.

"I believe people under the age of 16 should not be in fashion shows unless they are supervised and do have a chaperone with them."

Mr Bucknall says the problem with models under the age of 16 is that they lack the maturity needed to deal with the intense scrutiny and pressure.

He says while he does have some models under the age of 16 on his books, he always ensures they are protected.

"I definitely think anyone around the 16 age bracket should have adult supervision," he said.
"I, myself - if I have any models that are doing fashion shows within Australia or overseas - I insist that a staff member or myself are present and backstage if needed."
Ms Edquist agrees that maturity is needed to survive in the industry.
"Modelling is a job that requires a huge amount of rejection for nearly every model," she said.
"So if you're a 14-year-old girl working as a professional model, you can pretty much bet nine out of the 10 jobs you'll go for you'll be rejected.
"So I don't know if rejection to that extent is something that is very healthy for a girl of that age."
But both Ms Edquist and Mr Bucknall believe a blanket ban is not beneficial for the industry, as there are lots of girls who can cope with these pressures at a young age.

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