Jul 11, 2007
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Ban under-16s from catwalk : British experts

Jul 11, 2007

LONDON, July 11, 2007 (AFP) - Models aged under 16 should be banned from London Fashion Week, a British inquiry proposed Wednesday, july 11th in a report probing "size zero" catwalk waifs.

Kate Moss when she was 14 years old

The Model Health Inquiry, ordered by the British Fashion Council industry body following a row over so-called size zero models, made a string of recommendations which are likely to prove influential.

The panel, comprising models, designers and industry bigwigs, ruled out weighing all models, saying it had been ineffective in other countries.

They also demanded a study investigating how common eating disorders are among models and urged chaperoning for 17- and 18-year-olds at catwalk shows.

And they floated the idea of introducing a minimum body mass index (BMI) requirement of 18.5 for London Fashion Week models.

The College of Psychiatrists told the experts that models with a lower BMI -- a ratio of weight to height -- were underweight and should be banned from the catwalk.

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

Baroness Denise Kingsmill launched the interim report. The panel also includes designers Betty Jackson and Giles Deacon, British model Erin O'Connor and Sarah Doukas, the founder of Storm Model Management.

"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," said Kingsmill, who is chairing the inquiry.

"There was also strongly expressed concern that it is profoundly inappropriate that girls under 16, below 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 panel urged the BFC, which runs London Fashion Week, to develop new best-practice standards for model agencies.

The BFC should screen models for eating disorders before they sign up, and conduct annual checks, the experts said.

The panel's final report and recommendations are due in September, when the next London Fashion Week takes place.

The BFC wrote to designers before the last event in February, asking them to use only healthy-looking models aged over 16.

Hovever, it has stopped short of following the lead of authorities in Italy and Spain by imposing a ban on the skinniest models.

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