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London Fashion Week and the skinny models scandal: what real women think

By Andrew Reagan

As London Fashion Week kicked off this week, so did the row over size 00 stick-thin models. And as the shows draw to a close, it showed no sign of cooling down.

Madrid set the trend by banning girls with a body mass index of less than 18.5 from the catwalk – but London fashionistas refused to follow suit and at many shows, size 00 was the order of the day.

Health experts condemned the decision and ordinary women agree – a poll this week showed a resounding 96% of visitors to the site would prefer to see real women on the catwalk to bony walking coathanger women.

TV star Gail Porter weighed in to the argument: “Having struggled with the disease (an eating disorder) myself, the image that we're portraying to our children scares me.”

The 35-year-old mother of one continues: “I'm worried about the young girls that get into it. They might be naturally skinny then, but once they start to develop, they're told to lose it and there's an unnatural amount of pressure.”

The dangers of worshipping the uber-skinny look are clear: Eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and compulsive over-eating disorder affect a staggering 12% of the population.

Supermarket chains have cottoned on to what real women want – Asda has chosen curvy Coleen McLoughlin (BMI 22.3) to front its George range while clothing giants Matalan picked smiley, healthy Mel Sykes, (BMI 19).

But some critics say simply using a model's Body Mass Index as a guide may not be the answer. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple calculation which shows how healthy your weight is in relation to your size. According to diet experts, a healthy BMI starts at 18.5 – anything less, and you could be dangerously thin. for example, will not produce a weight-loss diet for anyone with a BMI below 20, and even when you have joined you can't go below a BMI of 19.

So far so simple – but some women claim they naturally have a low BMI and the fact that healthy-looking stars like curvy Kelly Brook has a BMI of just 17.8 and healthy model mum Melinda Messenger just 17.4 adds weight to their argument.

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (BMI 16.1) pointed out: “As a naturally thin person I understand that some of these girls can have a BMI of less than 18 and still be healthy.”

And Stuart Rose, chairman of the British Fashion Council, said that a ban was unreasonable: “Outright bans and legislation are definitely not a route we want to go down.”

It may well be that banning models on the grounds of BMI alone is not the answer, but it's certainly time for the fashion industry to take some action to change this unhealthy, ugly and downright dangerous trend.

Surely, even if the industry refuses to accept that it plays a part in encouraging young girls to idolise the super-skinny, the horrific death of 22 year-old model Luisel Ramos last month – of a heart attack after surviving on a diet of salad leaves and diet coke for 3 months – should spur them on.'s Nicky Harley has been interviewing the stars to find out what they think on the subject. For Michael Caine's, and others comments, please visit 

Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Dahringer wrote Apr 25, 2009
    • I think stick thin models are beautiful but they look tired and unhealthy..Eventually will become anorexic and bulimic if they aren’t already..Yes it’s nice to wear smaller size clothes,but killing yourself to get there isn’t worth it..

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mztracy wrote Apr 25, 2009
    • honestly, the stick thin i can count every bone in your body models are very hard to even look at. It disgusts me that some think it is the way to be and sell their clothes.  

      My dd’s who are both thin came home and said someone called them fat!! WTF

      they are 5‘6” and both still wear a 00 or 0...they are not even 13 yet.

      I would be afraid to hug any of these girls for fear of breaking them...

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jenz ~ wrote Apr 25, 2009
    • It really depends upon whom the model is. Some do starve themselves sadly, literally. And some, such as the one they spoke of on the show that represented all of this last night, was naturally skinny, extremely offended and also given $10,000.oo for an interview.
      It would be wonderful though if every girl or woman just liked themself for who they are, all shapes and sizes.
      And I agree, to be malnourished/skinny doesn’t look good and is unhealthy- I don’t see the point....
      Hopefully it can be enforced that all models must be nourished, healthy etc

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mjmurphy wrote Apr 25, 2009

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kelly Robertson wrote Oct 19, 2010
    • I just returned from my second year at London’s Fashion Week and yes, you‘re correct... there are many skinny models there. I bring a cooler with food and water every day since it’s so hectic and saw tons of models who went all day without food or water. There are other issues as well, too sad to go in to. However, they‘re not all skinny and I believe that many who are skinny are healthy. You can particularly tell when doing their hair and makeup—you notice the condition of their hair and skin quite easily. The makeup goes on easy if their skin is in good shape and so on. It used to bother me a lot but this is my business so unless someone asks me for help, I just do my job the best of my ability.  

      Parents have a lot to do with how their girls view themselves - it’s OUR JOB to make sure they LOVE themselves just the way they are. I tell my girls this every day.. brainwashing never hurt me!  haha
      Hugs, kelly

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