The annual fashion weeks are under way in Madrid and in London, amid demands for the industry to stop holding up the anorexic look as a model of beauty. The “stick thin” image of supermodels like Kate Moss is blamed by critics for damaging the health of young girls who can starve themselves to emulate their idols.
Under pressure from campaigners, certain local authorities in Spain have taken action. In Andalusia, shops are not allowed to display clothes of continental size 36, size 8 in the UK, or smaller. Antonio Pernas, a designer at the Madrid fashion week says: “We have reached an agreement and I think it’s the right thing. The models should not have a negative influence with the young.”
A rule at the Madrid catwalk, based on advice given by nutritionists, says the “body mass index” of a model must be at least 18 .There is a minimum weight of 65 kilos. Organisers have been convinced by health campaigners who say the culture of extreme thinness is provoking numerous cases of bulimia and anorexia.
In one French agency selection of models is carrying on for the big shows including Milan next week, then in Paris after that. Some commentators think designers will favour looser fitting and more generous shapes. A number of stylists are working with major stores to show lines which are more in tune with reality.
However the ultra skinny look is unlikely to disappear completely, says Catherine, a model: “You know, clothes look better on a skinny girl that is why people wear them. But I think fashion in general is going towards much bigger girls. They want girls with boobs, they want curvier girls, people want healthier sizes. I think it’s naturally going that way as the population gets bigger, but I think people will still want somebody slender in a dress.”
A medical survey in the UK says the image of slim models is in contrast to the shape of most children and young women who are in fact becoming increasingly heavier. The report adds the degree of thinness exhibited by models is unachievable and biologically inappropriate.