Skinny models get health message in the Big Apple

Skinny models on the catwalks of New York fashion shows in September. They have been issued with health guidelines.

Waif goodbye? Skinny models on the catwalks of New York fashion shows in September. They have been issued with health guidelines.
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Skinny models have been issued with health guidelines for the first time by New York fashion show organisers, but they won't be banned from the catwalk like they have in Milan.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America recommended models with eating disorders seek treatment, young models work limited hours, healthy food be supplied backstage and smoking and alcohol be banned.

The CFDA, which organises the semi-annual fashion weeks in New York, said its guidelines were "about awareness and education, not policing".

"Therefore, the committee is not recommending that models get a doctor's physical examination to assess their health or body mass index to be permitted to work," the CFDA said in a statement.

"Eating disorders are emotional disorders that have psychological, behavioural, social, and physical manifestations, of which body weight is only one."

The fashion world has been debating the issue, with many designers and models shrugging off concerns that ultra-thin models encourage eating disorders in girls and young women.

New York's next fashion week begins on February 2.

"I think the new CFDA guidelines are fantastic," Katie Ford, chief executive of Ford Modelling Agency, said.

"I think just discussing it creates a lot of awareness for designers and all people who are watching models and I think it's a good thing."

But the National Eating Disorders Association urged the fashion world to go further.









"Simply making a suggestion is a Band-Aid on a much larger wound. Our concern is, who is going to monitor this program? What are the next steps?" said Lynn Grefe, chief executive of the association.

"The fashion industry does not cause eating disorders, but to a young girl predisposed to an eating disorder, these images are like handing them a loaded gun."

Last month, Milan fashion houses banned ultra-skinny and under-age models from its shows, banning models under 16 or with a body mass index of less than 18.5.

BMI is the ratio of weight to the square of height, so that a 1.73-metre model who weighed less than 55.4 kilograms would be barred.

The World Health Organisation deems a person to be underweight if their index is lower than 18.5.

Milan is the only city of the four world centres of fashion - the others being New York, London and Paris - to enact an outright ban.

Mario Boselli, head of the Italian National Chamber of Fashion, has said he plans to meet with other industry leaders later this month to press the issue.

Didier Grumbach, the president of France's Chambre Syndicale who oversees Paris's fashion week, has said he does not think regulation is the answer to the problem of anorexia and called the rules "a false remedy".