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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 February 2007, 13:18 GMT
Jowell in call for model medicals
Catwalk models (archive)
London Fashion Week begins on Sunday
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell is calling for models to undergo health checks before taking to the catwalk during London Fashion Week.

Ms Jowell said it was for the industry to decide but she believed doctors should be on hand during the event which starts on Sunday.

She also said action was needed to avoid promoting unhealthy body images.

But Ms Jowell warned against penalising girls who were "fortunate enough to stay skinny while eating normally".

She said: "The industry has to focus on thinness which is making the model ill rather than an arbitrary measurement".

I am delighted that the British Fashion Council... have made it absolutely clear that they intend to take some serious steps to rectify the use of very thin models
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell

Ms Jowell called for "stick-thin" models to be banned from the catwalks during London Fashion Week last September.

It came after Madrid's fashion week banned underweight models on the basis of their body mass index (BMI).

This week Ms Jowell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that while she did not want new laws banning "size zero" models she thought the fashion industry should take responsibility for promoting unhealthy body shapes.

She said: "I am delighted that the British Fashion Council... have made it absolutely clear that they intend to take some serious steps to rectify the use of very thin models or young women who are under 16."

But she said the fact that some women were naturally thin had to be taken into account.

Low self-esteem

"There are models, famous models... who eat normally but are just very fortunate - unlike the rest of us - in that if they eat normally they don't put on weight," she said.

Ms Jowell said research showed that the self-esteem of young girls was being damaged by images of thin women in magazines.

"There is clearly a problem of anorexia and other eating disorders among teenagers in this country, but there is also a problem of low esteem, in that looking good is associated with being very thin," she said.

United Nations health experts recommend a BMI of between 18.5 and about 25, but some models fall well below the minimum.


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