The Sunday Times Column: Fashion faces calls to end the ‘anorexia chic’


THERE is a new young model burning up the catwalks. Molly Bair has already appeared at Prada, Gucci and Chanel. Yesterday she was in New York, strutting for Alexander Wang. Now she is flying in for London fashion week.

Bair has been hailed by fashionistas as a rare find, an alien beauty who has been likened to a praying mantis. Yet many who see her picture may worry that this 18-year-old American seems dangerously thin.

She is 6ft tall, and her fragile build suggests her body mass index (BMI) may not exceed the minimum that many countries — but not yet Britain — are beginning to demand of the fashion industry. Her image is already being posted on internet “thinspiration” sites used by young women with eating disorders.

Bair’s arrival in London before shows begin on Friday coincides with renewed pressure on fashion houses to stop promoting unhealthy images of desperately thin young women with jutting shoulder bones, boyish hips and shin-sized thighs.

Earlier this summer, France became the latest country to vote to criminalise the use of models with a BMI under 18 (a figure in line with World Health Organisation studies on healthy body weight).

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