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INACTIVE LONDON: Zero action on size zero

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Fashion Week today failed to ban size zero models from the catwalk.
The British Fashion Council, which owns and runs the annual show, has stopped short of demanding that designers do not use extremely thin models.

Instead it has agreed to set up a taskforce to draw up a voluntary code of practice.
Experts in eating disorders said they were disappointed that tougher measures had not been adopted.
It means London will not follow Madrid and New York in taking a firm stance on the use of underweight models amid fears that they are dangerous role models for young girls.

The fashion council appealed to designers and model agencies to use "healthy" models to show their collections in London next month but did not stipulate what that is.

It follows a meeting between fashion council chairman Stuart Rose and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. Ms Jowell agreed that regulation was not the way forward. She has backed down from her former hardline stance against the use of thin models and is happy to let the industry set its own guidelines.

Doctors, eating disorder organisations and MPs had called for a ban on the use of models with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18 which is officially recognised as being under a healthy weight.

The fashion industry has been criticised for using models who are an American size zero, a UK size four, which doctors say most adult women cannot achieve without endangering their health.

The row was sparked after two models died from the complications linked to eating disorders.

The statement from the BFC said: "We believe that regulation is neither desirable or enforceable. What will make a difference is the commitment of the fashion industry to change attitudes through behaviour and education."

Their taskforce will be set up with the London Development Agency to talk to interested parties and draw up guidelines for the future.

Sponsors of London Fashion Week, including Topshop, Superdrug, Tissot, Philips, Renault and MAC have agreed to the voluntary code. It is understood that difficulty in reaching consensus among sponsors meant the compromise was necessary.

Experts were disappointed the code did not go further but welcomed the announcement as a useful first step.

Consultant psychiatrist Frances Connan, who works at the Vincent Square eating disorder clinic in London, said: "I am disappointed that the British Fashion Council did not come up with more concrete guidelines at this stage.

"The risk is that this may become a delaying tactic and I hope that all parties move to draw up guidelines quickly that are not just workable for the fashion industry but also reflect healthy parameters for adult women."

But Mr Rose, boss of Marks& Spencer, told the Standard: "I believe this code is better than nothing. The health of the models is paramount and the image that fashion projects is something that needs to be addressed. This is a positive step in the right direction."

Public health minster-Caroline Flint urged the fashion industry-to sign up to the code when it is agreed.

She said: "Eating properly and exercising are the best ways to stay slim and most importantly healthy. I support the BFC in drawing up this voluntary code. I would urge the fashion industry to sign up and give young women role models who will encourage them to lead healthy, active lives."
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of the Eating Disorder Association, said the code would be a "good first step". She added: "It is only a start and of course we want to see the whole industry take on its responsibility to promote healthy images."

Ms Jowell said: "I welcome London Fashion Week's move to promote the use of healthy models and I urge strongly the designers taking part to support this. The fashion industry is hugely powerful in shaping the attitudes of young women and their feelings about themselves."

Source: The Evening Standard

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