SAO PAULO, Brazil - A major
Brazilian fashion event has moved to bar models under the age of 16, part of a
national effort to increase awareness about eating disorders following the death
of a 21-year-old model from anorexia last month.
"In Paris and Milan, models under 16 years can't participate in these
types of events," Paula Marini, a spokeswoman for Ford Models, said Thursday.
"In Brazil this is a new procedure."
Next month's Sao Paulo Fashion Week added the minimum-age requirement to a
previous rule that modeling agencies present a signed medical certificate
proving their models are in good health.
"Beauty and fashion is about health in the first place," Fashion Week Creive
Director Paulo Borges said in a statement.
Young models anxious to begin their careers may become frustrated if they
aren't immediately successful, the organization said in a statement. If they
believe the way to success is a rail-thin body, rising models may starve
themselves to meet the perceived beauty standard.
The world of high fashion and modeling has long been targeted by critics who
say it encourages women and girls to emulate models.
In September, Madrid's Fashion Week banned models with a body mass index of
less than 18. Body mass index is a calculation doctors normally apply to study
obesity, and anyone with an index below 18.5 is considered underweight.
While the Sao Paulo event put no specific body-mass requirement on models,
its statements Thursday reflect the local industry's concern about models'
health following the death of Ana Carolina Reston of generalized infection
caused by anorexia nervosa, a disorder characterized by an abnormal fear of
becoming obese. The 5-foot-8 inch model weighed 88 pounds at the time of her
Brazilian TV viewers are also following the drama of young Giselle, a teenage
character in the prime-time telenovela "The Pages of Our Lives" who suffers from
Sao Paulo Fashion Week takes place Jan. 24-29. It will feature collections
from dozens of Brazilian designers.