In a post just last week I reported that Madrid Fashion Week organizers were banning models that they perceived to be unhealthy (at a BMI of 18 and under), from participation in this years fashion shows. I commended their efforts.
However, an important piece of that story was missing. It seems that much of the concern around very skinny models emanated from the unfortunate death of a young model, Luisel Ramos, a 22-year-old model from Uruguay, who reportedly died of heart failure on the stage during Fashion Week in Montevideo, South America. It is after this incident authorities from Madrid instituted the ban. According to noted fashion designer Jesus del Pozo, the decision was made as part of a voluntary agreement with the Madrid regional government. It would have been much more uplifting a story had someone not died on the catwalk to get everyone’s attention.
In a follow up this week, British Culture Secretary, Tesse Jowell, a member of the British Cabinet called Saturday for organizers of London Fashion Week to follow their Madrid counterpart and ban super thin models as well. They declined.
But in more positive news, Colin McDowell, creative director of the Edinburgh Scotland’s annual fashion shows told Alastair Jamieson, Consumer Affairs Correspondent of The Scotsman, that he wanted to use "models who speak of glamour, not anorexia". Mr McDowell said fashion designers will always choose taller and thinner women to show off their clothes, but that models should not be "excessively underweight". Consequently, they are embracing the ban. Reportedly, Milan is set to follow suit.
Currently, the average BMI of catwalk models who participate in runway fashion shows is 16. The World Health Organization identifies underweight as a BMI less than 18.5.