Spotlight on models' health

It's fashion show season world wide and once again models and eating disorders are making the headlines.

by: Reuters 2007 | 16 Feb 2007

Backstage at 9 a.m. one day, the breakfast buffet included champagne, miniature pastries, coffee and caffeinated energy drinks.

"Champagne has always been served. We take one sip. None of the girls get drunk," said Polish model Magdalena Frackowiak, who at 19 is below New York's 21-year-old legal drinking age.

A spokesman for the Fashion Week organization denied models were making themselves vomit backstage. "It is not something we have had a historical issue with or something we that our staff have seen on site this season," he said on condition of anonymity.

No time to eat

Model after model says she has a high metabolism and no time for proper meals between shows.

Skinny models dated back to Twiggy in the 1960s, said Nian Fish of the designer council's health initiative. She said the group could not demand heavier models. "It would be like asking Rubens to paint skinny women and the New York City Ballet to use bigger size ballerinas."

Council President Diane von Furstenberg insisted the group was right not to enforce weight guidelines by demanding that models have a minimum body-mass index, expressed as a ratio of weight to height, or demanding they pass a medical exam.

Milan is the only city of the four world fashion centers, with New York, London and Paris to ban models with a body-mass index of less than 18.5 from shows. That means a 5-foot-8 inch (1.73 meter) model must weigh at least 122 pounds (55.4 kg).

A Democratic New York councilwoman is pushing a law banning models with indexes under 18.5 from city runways.

The scrutiny followed two deaths. Uruguayan Luisel Ramos died after a heart attack, reportedly after months of eating only lettuce and diet soda, and Brazil's Ana Carolina Reston died from an anorexia-related infection after eating only apples and tomatoes.

Nearly 10 million American women and 1 million men battle eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

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