Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has called for "stick-thin" models to be banned from the catwalks during London Fashion Week.
London Fashion Week begins on Monday
It comes after Madrid's fashion week, one of Spain's most prestigious shows, banned underweight models on the basis of their body mass index (BMI).
Ms Jowell said "stick-thin" models pressurised girls to starve themselves.
But the British Fashion Council (BFC), which runs the event, said it would not tell designers how to run their shows.
United Nations health experts recommend a BMI of between 18.5 and about 25, but some models fall well below the minimum.
The Spanish Association of Fashion Designers decided to ban models who had a BMI of less than 18.
Ms Jowell urged the BFC to follow this example when the London show opens on Monday.
She said: "The fashion industry's promotion of beauty as meaning stick thin is damaging to young girls' self image and to their health.
"The fashion industry is hugely powerful in shaping the attitude of teenage girls and their feelings about themselves.
"I applaud the decision taken by Madrid to ban super-thin models, and urge the organisers of London Fashion Week to do the same."
But the BFC said in a statement it "does not comment or interfere in the aesthetic of any designer's show".