By  on December 19, 2006

MILAN — Call it a license to runway.

In the latest industry move to combat eating disorders and the influence of ultrathin body types, models in Milan will need a license to walk the runway next season, if Italy's Chamber of Fashion has anything to say about it.

The license will guarantee that the model is healthy and will be issued by a committee comprising city officials, the Chamber of Fashion, the Association of Fashion Services, ASSEM and a scientific committee, which includes a group of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists and other experts. The license is just one of the issues of the "ethical code of self-regulation" that was presented to the press on Monday by the Camera della Moda and the mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti. "This is a code of self-regulation," said Moratti, "and it is connected to those lifestyles that lead to social diseases. The risk is that we are not protecting the health of the models and the impact on the young adolescents who see models as a reference point to achieve beauty."

According to the code, models will have to be at least age 16. Also, the code plans to comply with a Body Mass Index of 18.5, set by the World Health Organization. However, the Italian code takes into account geographical and ethnic factors that may define different body types.

The ethnic-geographic consideration had been overlooked by Spanish fashion industry officials, who last season banned superskinny models from the Madrid runways. Madrid was both ridiculed and praised when it gained headlines around the world by drawing attention to the connection between fashion and the risks of eating disorders by reinforcing the World Health Organization's Body Mass Index. But the Italian code points out: "We cannot limit ourselves to numerical parameters or preset formulas. For this reason, a personalized analysis is necessary."

In addition to validating a license to model, the ethical and scientific committees plan to promote a greater variety of sizes on the runway and to put fashion shows on par with athletic competitions, thereby reinforcing the need for a healthy eating habits and techniques to fight stress. The committees plan to introduce nutrition courses and balanced physical activities in modeling schools. "We will also evaluate the production of shoots done outside Italy, for example, and see if they are in line with the code's principles to be distributed in Italy," said Moratti, adding that intense marketing and communications are also planned to promote a message of well-being and health.

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