Protruding collarbones. Visible ribcages. Spaghetti noodle-like arms. Pretty images, they're not, but we saw them everywhere during New York Fashion Week. Skinny doesn't begin to describe what models look like these days, and while Manhattanites will do as they do, writing articles (here's another) and holding panels about the lack of diverse faces and bodies on the runway after the fact, Spain is taking preemptive action.
Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week kicked off on Monday, and once again Madrid's city council has banned models with a body mass index lower than 18 from walking the runway. It's a rule that was first implemented in 2006, when 22-year-old Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos collapsed just after a show and died of heart failure--she'd been on a minimal-calorie diet for three weeks, trying to get in top form for work. This year, only one model failed to meet the BMI cut and was banned from the shows. Is that really enough?
Madrid's policy is a good first step, but if only one out of every hundred models is deemed too skinny, that's still a highly skewed standard of approval. After all, the "over-18" models didn't look any healthier than usual on Tuesday, when Agatha Ruiz de la Prada sent them down her catwalk in bikinis. But more importantly, the rule doesn't take proper aim at the root cause of this problem. Models don't starve themselves because it's fun. They do it because designers wish them to be as thin as possible, so that their clothes can do all the talking. But if you were to ask us, and most people on the street, fashion isn't about a singular point of view. It's about cultural exchange--something you can't truly achieve without diversity.
So instead of continuing to force models into reaching an ever-elusive ideal weight, where a BMI of 17 is too skinny but 19 is a career-killer, let's address those who are really responsible. Designers, if you don't want it to appear as though your clothes are worn by real people, why not stop asking for models who resemble hangers and send your clothes out on one of those movable racks, dry cleaner-style? Same concept, less harmful to all of us...and we promise your clothes will be no less gorgeous.