Quebec health minister weighs in on skinny model debate
In the latest scrutiny of underweight models, Quebec's minister of health is calling on members of the fashion industry to meet with him and develop strategies to promote good health.
Philippe Couillard said he wants to tell young people that being underweight can be harmful.
"What I would like to do is have a meeting with representatives of the fashion industry, have them discover the problem — I think they know the problem exists — and see how we can together have concerted actions," he told CBC.
"We're not going to send the police to the fashion shows but just together show a common commitment to health," Couillard said.
Couillard's comments were made as Montreal celebrates its 11th annual fashion week.
In September, organizers of Spain's top annual fashion show said they would reject models who had a body mass index — a calculation based on height and weight — lower than 18. The United Nations suggests healthy adults should have a BMI of between 18.5 and 25. Five women were rejected for being too thin to appearat the Spanish event.
Officials in Britain followed suit, with Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell calling for a reform of the modelling industry during London's fashion week.
"The fashion industry's promotion of beauty as meaning stick thin is damaging to young girls' self image and to their health,"Jowell said in a statement.
"Young girls aspire to look like the catwalk models. When those models are unhealthily underweight it pressurizes girls to starve themselves to look the same."
However, fashion show organizers refused to ban underweight models from the catwalk, sayingsuch a ban wouldinterfere with the designers' visual presentation.
Couillard said he finds the pressing desire to be thin a disturbing trend.
"It's extremely prevalent in the fashion industry. Other countries are taking notice and taking action â¦ in a collaborative way," he said.
"If people also want to be so thin it's because maybe they think this is the way they should look, and the way they should look is what they see in fashion magazines and [in] fashion shows. This is what we want to talk about," he said.