Why This Healthy Model Pledge Could Change The Industry

Photo: MCV Photo.
A model walks in the Henrik Vibskov fall 2015 show during Copenhagen Fashion Week.
A little more than a week after France announced that lawmakers were considering action to address the issue of dangerously thin models, another European country is taking a stand — with an entirely different approach to the problem. The New York Times reports that Denmark has thoroughly updated the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter, a document co-written by the biggest players in Danish fashion. First produced in 2007 and completely redone as of today, the charter features contributions from the Danish Fashion Institute, the eight largest model agencies, and the country’s Model Union, among others.

Unlike France, which uses fines or even jail time to make sure companies abide by healthy model standards — dictated by their BMIs — Denmark's regulations are non-binding. In fact, they don't even rely on numbers or body weight at all. According to the charter, the goal is "to raise awareness and influence attitudes in the fashion industry, as well as in the media and in society in general." These updated rules include regular medical checkups for all models under 25, the promise of healthy food on shoots, compulsory monetary wages (no work in exchange for clothing), and more.

But, arguably the most effective aspect of the charter is the peer-pressure element, which more or less states that if a company wants to be a part of Denmark's fashion community, it needs to get onboard with the regulations. For instance, every designer participating in Copenhagen Fashion Week is required to sign the charter (and if they sign and don't follow through, their name is blacklisted online). Over 300 signatures have already been obtained. Eva Kruse, chief executive of the Danish Fashion Institute, told The New York Times: “We think that the fact that the industry is taking such an active part in the charter will have a much greater impact, also in the long run, than legislation issued by the authorities and fines.” 

Of course, body image and eating issues extend far beyond the runway, and as the NYT  points out, there's no one "right" solution. However, industry-wide involvement and awareness seems like an excellent place to start. (The New York Times)
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