Several years ago, Madrid's regional government barred underweight models during fashion week (Brownholtz). Any model with a body mass index of under 18 was prohibited from taking part at the event (Pressure). Some people supported these measures but others complained.
One argument against banning underweight models is that the exclusion would encroach on American principles of freedom and liberty (Brownholtz). Russian model Valentina Zelyaeva says: "I think it's discrimination. We are skinny; this is our work. There are lots of overweight people working in offices but I'm not going to say `This girl is fat, she can't work in an office’" (Brownholtz).
While this is a valid point, the harsh fact still remains that the pressure to be thin can cause normal weight models to go to extremes to survive in the industry. Crystal Renn is now a “plus size” model. However, she suffered from anorexia nervosa when she was sixteen years old, and was new to the modelling business. She explained, “I didn’t have my period for three years, my hair was falling out, [and] my skin was a wreck” (Brownholtz).
It is stories like this that has resulted in health agencies’ demanding that legal intervention is needed to protect models’ health. Steve Bloomfield, who is a spokesman for the Eating Disorders Association, said: "We do think legislation is needed. This is about protecting the young women and men who work in the fashion industry, as well as those who are at risk of an eating disorder and can be influenced by the pictures that they see” (Pressure).
Brownholtz, B. “BMI and The Fashion Industry”. Demand It. 18 November. 2006. Web. 12 March. 2011. http://www.demandit.org/articles/BMI.html
“Pressure Mounts for ‘Ban’ on Zero Size Models.” London Evening Standard. 16 September. 2006. Web. 12 March. 2011.