Spanish designers to promote healthier image

Leading labels will "standardize" sizes according to an agreement with the country's Health Ministry.

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published January 24, 2007 8:25PM (EST)

While U.S. designers are content talking the talk with regard to banishing anorexia chic, Spanish designers are actually walking the walk. Spain's lead fashion houses have agreed to "standardize" clothing sizes, the Associated Press reports. Spain's Health Ministry made the agreement with designers in hopes that uniform sizes throughout the industry will reduce the mixed messages women receive about their figures. The participating designers have also agreed to use clothing no smaller than a European size 38 -- or size 8 stateside -- in window displays and no longer classify a size 46 as plus-size.

"It is not reasonable for a modern and advanced society to establish stereotypes of beauty that are far removed from the social reality of a community," said Elena Salgado, Spain's health minister. "It is everyone's commitment that beauty and health go hand in hand." As part of that aim, the ministry will "measure 8,500 Spanish girls and women between the ages of 12 and 70 to determine the true shapes of Spanish women's bodies," according to the AP.

Major Spanish labels like Cortefiel, El Corte Ingles, Zara and Mango -- some of which have a growing U.S. presence -- have signed on and will institute the changes within five years. It's hard to grasp just how monumental this is; imagine Macy's and Bloomingdale's vowing to only display mannequins wearing size 8 and above. I'll admit to some apprehension over Madrid officials' outright banning of super-skinny models. But it seems appropriate for the country's Health Ministry to at least bring some pressure to bear on the fashion industry. Left to their own devices, U.S. designers recently showed that their idea of improving health standards in the industry is limited to educating insiders on symptoms of anorexia and offsetting models' "diet of Champagne and cigarettes" by providing them with a few healthy snacks.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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