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Models Too Thin for Fashion Shows

September 18, 2006

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The call is widening. First, it was Spain banning models who were too thin. Now, it's Britain.

During the weekend, British Culture Secretary Jowell urged organizers of her country's Fashion Week to follow the lead of Spain, which recently banned models who they said were too thin and sent a bad message to the general public, especially to young girls, that "too thin is in."

Spanish officials refused to allow models who had a Body Mass Index of less than 18. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of height and weight and is commonly used by doctors to determine obesity in children and adults. The World Health Organizations considers people with a BMI under 18.5 underweight. The average model at a height of 5-foot-9, for example, weighs 115 pounds, a full 10 pounds less than what she should to achieve that 18.5 BMI.

The Spanish officials said they wanted their models to project a message of beauty and health, not anemia and gauntness. The fashion industry is replete with models who would qualify as too thin, most notably the recently famous Kate Moss.

The mayor of Milan, Italy, is on board as well. Letizia Moratti wants a similar ban for her city's well-known show.

For the most part, officials in the fashion industry condemned the action, saying that such bans could ruin the careers of some of the most famous models on the planet.

Fashion Week runs this week in Europe. Fall Fashion Week was last week in New York.

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