Danish Fashion Industry Pledges To Promote Healthier Body Image

Written by Emi Boscamp

Last week, we reported that France is considering passing a bill banning super-thin models from the fashion industry. Now, Denmark has stepped into the arena — but with an entirely different approach to the issue.

Instead of issuing fines or even jail time to agencies with "underweight" models (based on BMI) like France, Denmark's regulations are a little more subjective — or, shall we say, human.

The New York Times reports that Denmark has revamped the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter, a four-page document written by the Danish Fashion Institute, Danish Fashion and Textile, the Danish textile organization WEAR, the country's eight largest model agencies, the Danish Association Against Eating Disorders and Self-Harm, and Model Union Denmark. First introduced in 2007, it's been entirely rewritten.

Its goal is to "raise awareness and influence attitudes in the fashion industry, as well as in the media and in society in general," and unlike France, Denmark doesn't believe that it would be effective to rely on numbers or body weight.

Instead, according to the Times, the charter will include:

1. Checkups ("Model agencies that commit to the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter have agreed that all their models under the age of 25 will get an annual compulsory health check," and if they don't pass, they must be referred to other doctors) and an age limit (models must be 16 to work alone). 2. Food pledges (healthy stuff has to be available at shoots). 3. Compulsory wages. (Models must be paid with actual money; don't laugh — this doesn't always happen. Sometimes they are paid in clothes.) 4. Further recommendations (models should be taught about nutrition). 5. Penalties. More on those later.

So instead of focusing on legislative pressure, Denmark's approach one relies, for the most part, on peer pressure within the industry. If an agency wants to be not only a part of but also respected in Denmark's fashion community, it's got to get on board with the new regulations.

For example, if you want to participate in Copenhagen Fashion Week, which is run by the Danish Fashion Institute, it's mandatory that you sign the charter. And if you choose not to sign it or abide by all its guidelines, you'll be kicked out of the event.

If you want to be part of Copenhagen Fashion Week, which is run by the Danish Fashion Institute, you have to sign the charter. And if you sign the charter and don't abide by it, after warnings and "reprimands" you will be kicked out of the event.

So far, 300 companies and individuals have signed on.

Eva Kruse, chief executive of the Danish Fashion Institute, told the Times: "We think that the fact that the industry is taking such an active part in the charter will have a much greater impact, also in the long run, than legislation issued by the authorities and fines."

While body image issues clearly don't stop at the end of the catwalk, we agree with Kruse. Industry-wide involvement and awareness has a better chance of working than black-and-white legislation.

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