Catalonia in bid to ban skinny models

Catalonia is planning to ban underweight models from appearing in advertisements in the region in a bid to promote a healthier body image.

Catalonia in bid to ban skinny models
Photo of a skinny model: Shutterstock

Three public bodies in the Spanish region of Catalonia are planning to prohibit skinny models from appearing in fashion advertising, in the latest measures in Spain against the promotion of underweight body shapes.

The Institut Català de les Dones (ICD – Catalan Institute for Women), el Col.legi de Publicistes de Catalunya (Catalonian College of Publicists)  y el Consell Audiovidual de Catalunya (CAC – Audiovisual Council of Catalonia) are working on a framework to avoid sexist practices in advertising.

According to Catalan radio station RAC1, the three institutions are currently working on drawing up a set of regulations which will be introduced towards the end of the year.

The plans come in the wake of similar initiatives introduced in promote a healthy body image.

In 2006, Spain became the first country to ban too-skinny models from its catwalks, when Madrid fashion week prohibited the use of those under a certain body mass index, causing an outcry among modelling agencies.

At the time, organizers said they wanted to project the image of beauty and health rather than a waif like, or heroin chic look.

In 2007, the country banned too-skinny shop mannequins, prompting international headlines such as "Spanish shop dummies to put on weight".

France has followed suit and recently banned skinny models from its catwalks, in one of the country’s latest measures aimed at fighting anorexia.

For the President of the College of Publicists, Ton del Pozo, Catalonia’s latest plans are twofold: on the one hand, to monitor advertisements and on the other, to warn media against associating beauty with extreme skinniness.

"We must try to convince advertisers that proper treatment of women is good for your brand and, of course, that sexist treatment is negative," del Pozo told Catalan daily, La Vanguardia.

In the past year alone, the Catalan Institute for Women (ICD) has registered 26 complaints against "sexist publicity".

President of the ICD, Montse Gatell, gave the example of advertisements that encourage women to lose weight after overindulging at Christmas.

For Gatell, it is a clear example of the worrying obsession of being thin.

"While it has slowed down a bit, the objectification of women’s bodies is far from extinct," she told La Vanguardia, saying that unfortunately a certain model of beauty is still linked to success.

The three institutions are also planning to introduce regulations against the use of female stereotypes related to work and housework in its advertising guidelines.

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