Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rome Fashion Show bars 15 'too skinny' models

FIFTEEN models were kicked out of a Rome fashion show today for being too thin, sparking new debate on anorexia in the fashion industry.

"I asked that girls with abnormal measurements shouldn't work ... (and) had to fire 15 who were under (French) size 36 (US size eight)," Raffaella Curiel told reporters.

"One girl fainted during the trials," he said, adding, "I had to give her a ham sandwich."

Curiel said his fashion house wanted to respect rules developed in December to combat anorexia among fashion models, but added: "It's not our fault if (agencies) send us girls who are too skinny."

Under the new rules, girls under 16 cannot take to the catwalk, and models must produce a certificate proving that they have no eating disorders.

Meanwhile, models under 16 will be banned from London Fashion Week catwalks under new rules proposed today.

A panel of experts set up to investigate health problems among models also called for greater protection for 17 and 18 year-olds, including chaperoning at shows.

But the independent Model Health Inquiry set up in the wake of the size zero debate ruled out weighing all models because it had been ineffective in other countries.

Panel members called for a rigorous scientific study into the prevalence of eating disorders among fashion models.

During the inquiry, they heard from many models who told of the fear of not being selected for
work because they were not thin enough, according to Panel chairwoman Baroness Kingsmill.
In particular, they want more information on whether a minimum body mass index (BMI) requirement of 18.5 should be introduced for London Fashion Week models.

This approach has already been adopted by Madrid fashion week.

In its interim report published today, the panel called for a detailed investigation into models working conditions and outlined a positive case for setting up a union for the modelling profession.

The panel said models under 16 were particularly vulnerable. It mentioned the risk of children being sexually exploited when they were made to represent adult women.

Launching the interim report today, Kingsmill said: "The panel has set out an approach designed to protect vulnerable young workers in an industry which appears to be glamorous but which has hidden risks and that for all practical purposes is largely unregulated and unmonitored."

She added: "... members of the panel became increasingly concerned as we heard more details about the working conditions faced by many models and the vulnerability of young women working in an unregulated and scarcely-monitored work environment.

"We have been given startling medical evidence about the prevalence and impact of eating disorders in certain high-risk industries.

"Working conditions for models are far from transparent and there is a worrying lack of information about the overall profession.

The College of Psychiatrists told the panel that models with a BMI of below 18.5 which means they are underweight - should be banned from the catwalk.

But other respondents said BMI did not help identify the eating disorder bulimia nervosa.

Kingsmill added: "There was also strongly expressed concern that it is profoundly inappropriate that girls under 16, under the age of consent, should be portrayed as adult women. The risk of sexualising these children was high and designers could risk charges of sexual exploitation."

The inquiry is requesting responses to its interim report. Its final report, along with a final set of recommendations is due to be published in September, when the next London Fashion Week takes place.

Recent controversy over skinny models was sparked in August 2006, when Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos, 22, died of heart failure after not eating for several days.

Her death was followed in November by that of Ana Carolina Reston, a Brazilian model who suffered from anorexia.

Madrid Fashion Week last year banned models with a BMI of less than 18 from taking part.
Doctors use the index, which is a ratio of height to weight, to calculate the healthy size for an individual.

The debate about the US size zero - the equivalent of a UK size four - was caused by celebrities dieting down to the super-thin size.

- with Press Association

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