Ban skinny models
March 5, 2007
Organisers of Australian Fashion Week are moving to introduce healthy weight guidelines for models, as doctors say the waif-thin young women promote eating disorders.
Fashion week boss Simon Lock said the industry had approached the issue responsibly.
"We don't want to see young girls hurting themselves in any way," he told ABC TV.
The guidelines, similar to those existing in Spain and Italy, should be in place in time for next month's Australian Fashion Week, from April 30 to May 4.
The move coincides with Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on the federal government to introduce healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines for fashion models to address eating disorders among young people.
BMI is a measure of the weight of a person scaled according to height.
The debate over waif-thin models, and body image, intensified last year when the organisers of the Madrid fashion week banned models with a BMI of less than 18.
According to the scale, people are considered underweight if they have a BMI below 18.5.
AMA president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said there are serious physical and mental health issues in the community around people aspiring to look like underweight models.
"Body image and self esteem among teenagers and young women in particular are heavily influenced by models in magazines and on TV," Dr Haikerwal said.
"The pursuit of the perfect look leads to a whole range of health threats such as eating disorders, dangerous dieting habits, smoking and depression," he said.
The AMA has called on the federal government to work together with the fashion industry and health professionals to introduce BMI guidelines to control the body image promoted by fashion models.
Dr Haikerwal said such guidelines would help prevent low self esteem and poor health among people who are influenced by unrealistic body images.
"We need to do something soon to prevent young people, especially girls, from harming themselves in the pursuit of a false ideal," Dr Haikerwal said.
"Government guidelines could cover the appropriate BMI for models and the most appropriate age for models projecting certain images."
"The guidelines would ensure that models are models of good health," he said.