The Skinny on Italy’s New Rules for Models

I recently came across some interesting fashion news from Italy. The Camera Della Moda Italiana—Italy’s fashion industry association—has banned both models under 16 and unhealthily skinny models of any age from the runways.

Even with several recent eating-disorder deaths of models around the world, it is shocking to see anyone anywhere in the fashion industry finally move toward discouraging models from being “too” thin. But this new ruling in Italy bans any model with a body mass index under 18.5 (meaning, approximately, a 5’8” woman weighing less than 120 pounds). Kate Moss, for example, is too thin to meet the requirement. Kudos to Italy, I say. This is step—albeit a small step, as it says nothing about the print medium—in the right direction.

We regularly cast models for our JCKstyle fashion shoots. They do need to be thin enough to wear sample sizes from fashion houses. However (and something to keep in mind for those of you who shoot jewelry on models), Todd and I find, for print, it is wiser to look for energy and the ability to move (and, therefore, look natural in front of the camera) than to obsess about how skinny—or even “pretty”—a model is. We worked with a lovely model for our most recent issue of JCKstyle, for example. As she dressed, though, her spine and rib cage poked through her skin. ( I think it was Todd who vocalized what I was thinking: “Somebody order her a burger”!) As the day wore on and we got to know her, she told us that she just had just a few more pounds to lose before she would be able to work the runways. Yes, a few more pounds.

I compare this obsession in fashion for super-skinny, ever-younger models to the obsession in suburbia for ever-larger and more luxurious (and fuel-inefficient) SUVs—everyone knows deep down that it is foolish, but nobody has been game for being the first on the block to give it up. Camera Della Moda Italiana should be applauded for finally breaking the cycle of peer pressure.