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US Fashion Council Issues Health Initiative for Models

Renata Espinosa
January 12th, 2007 @ 5:56 PM - New York

As the controversy surrounding weight requirements for models continues, with concerns about eating disorders amongst the young girls who walk the runways each season in Europe and New York during fashion week, the Council for Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) issued a new health initiative today that proposes more education and awareness about eating disorders in the industry, as well as increased support for models under the age of 18 to protect their well-being.

A committee composed of medical doctors and high profile members of the fashion industry, including CFDA president and designer Diane von Furstenberg, established the guidelines as recommendations rather than requirements.

"Although we cannot fully assume responsibility for an issue that is as complex as eating disorders and that occurs in many walks of life, the fashion industry can begin a campaign of awareness and create and atmosphere that supports the well-being of these young women," the CFDA said in a statement.

The CFDA initiative does not propose "that models get a doctor's physical examination to assess their health or body-mass index to be permitted to work."

However, they do recommend that models under 18 not work past midnight for fittings or shoots and that regular, healthy meals and snacks be provided.

This is in contrast to recent guidelines imposed in Europe and Brazil. In Spain, underweight models were not allowed to participate in Madrid's fashion week last September.

The Italian National Chamber of Fashion announced last month that they will ban models from working if they do not meet a body mass index, or BMI - the ratio of weight to the square of height - of at least 18.5.

Sao Paulo Fashion Week, held later this month, will require that models to provide a signed medical certificate stating that they are in good health, and no models under the age of 16 will be allowed to work

The CFDA plans to host a panel on health and beauty with regards to the new recommendations during New York fashion week, which begins on February 2.

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