There's good news and bad news. The good news is that the forthcoming Montreal Fashion Week has banned underweight models.
The pertinent points are below. Note that the tone of the article is admirably positive about the ban. At least this one reporter understands that such a ban is necessary.
Actually, you can be too thin
Published: Thursday, October 04
The organizers of this year's Montreal Fashion Week have scored one small point for sanity in Canada's fashion industry, by barring girls under 16 and overly skinny models from its catwalks.
...the formal rejection of the skeletal look, even without any objective criteria of what constitutes overly skinny, is a step, though a diffident one, in the right direction. And it is part of a sensible trend that is long overdue...
...the standards set by today's mavens of the fashion industry often demand a level of gauntness that is downright lethal.
The deaths of at least six high-fashion models have been linked to malnutrition. Twenty-two-year-old Luisel Ramos of Uruguay, for example, died of a heart attack just over a year ago after trying to survive on a diet of sugar-free Coke and lettuce. Six months later, her sister Eliana also died of heart failure due to anorexia.
Horrific as they are, however, the deaths seem to be merely the tip of the iceberg. A British Fashion Council inquiry reported last month up to 40 per cent of that country's models might have an eating disorder.
And the damage these impossible standards do the body image of non-professionals - especially adolescent girls - is incalculable. The fashion industry sometimes seems to be a misogynist plot.
But the tide appears to be turning. Organizers of this year's Madrid Fashion Week banned models with a body-mass index of 18 or less - a height-weight ratio that the World Health Organization considers unhealthy and that usually produces a look most of us would associate with starvation rather than glamour. Italy, France and Britain followed up with restrictions that were less stringent but, nevertheless, indicated a change of attitude.
Montreal's ban also leaves a fair amount of wiggle room, and much depends on how it's applied. Organizers say knobby knees and protruding ribs and shoulder bones are out, which is sensible enough. The mystery is how they ever got to be in...
It all sounds good, but I am becoming really skeptical of these announcements. Has anything actually changed? The girls in fashion shows seem just as malnourished as ever. Perhaps the Madrid show has been most proactive in this, but everywhere else, the models still look skeletal.
Even the above report about the Montreal move notes that it lacks "objective criteria of what constitutes overly skinny". In other words, its just tokenism - good tokenism, but tokenism nonetheless.
These bans need standards to be effective. Any straight-size model smaller than a U.S. size 8 should not be allowed to walk the catwalk - and they should be measured to make sure. And just as straight-size models should be size 8 and up, so plussize models should be size 14 and up. Anything smaller can only cause eating disorders - in the models themselves, and more tragically, in young women in general.
Its like banning steroids and other toxic drugs in sports, and must be enforced just as stringently, by indepentent testers. Its a necessary rule, for the health and well-being of everyone.