Last year, the death of an anorexic model in Brazil was the catalyst for world wide debate on size zero. This prompted the introduction of minimum BMI requirements at fashion Weeks in Milan & Madrid. The continued spotlight on the size zero debate has since seen a number of highly publicised deaths caused by eating disorders in the modelling industry.
Despite this, London was refused to follow suit and has not banned underweight models from the catwalk.
In an article by a member of the British Fashion Council - the organising body responsible for the staging of London Fashion Week - I found attempted justification. The article explained that 'size zero' is not a real term in the UK and is only used for effect in the media. The author further justifies that by banning a BMI of under 18 it is patronising these girls, who would be being treated as if they were brainless pieces of meat, unable to think for themselves.
It is true that size zero is not UK sizing, it is actually the equivelant of a UK size 4. However the author herself goes on to say that you cannot really find a size 4 on the high street anyway. Isn't that the point? Aren't we setting unrealistic goals for young women?
In my opinion these young models feel the same pressure as every young girl, but to a much greater extent. If they weren't lead to believe that being unhealthily thin is the norm by the industry that has adopted them then yes, maybe they would have the strength of character to freely decide against it. At the moment they have two choices - move down a size or find a new job.
Maybe the term 'size zero' has captured the imagination of the UK public. Is this a bad thing if it highlights the serious issues surrounding this argument? Whether you call it a size zero debate, the fight against the death of anorexic models, or the unhealthy portrayal of the female form to young girls, the issues are the same.
I will concede that it is a step in the right direction that new guidelines have been set out in a voluntary code of practice discouraging use of underweight and overly-young models. However I feel that these will be followed as loosely as possible by many designers who feel that clothes hang better on stick thin girls. Maybe an outright ban is not the best way forward, maybe it will take strong figureheads in the industry to lead the change. Some large brands such as Topshop are already pledging they will not use super-skinny models in the future.
The increase in acceptance of all sizes in the fashion industry, including the rapidly growing plus size sector which is now catered for in many high street stores, plays its part in raising awareness and acceptance of the female body in all of its beautiful forms.