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Copenhagen Fashion Week
Models backstage at Copenhagen Fashion Week@cphfw via Instagram

Denmark launches charter to protect models’ health

The fashion industry is taking a stand against eating disorders and bad body image

Body image is a big issue right now, particularly in fashion. Campaigns like #DropThePlus highlight the growing unease over the obsession with size zero, alongside concerns that not enough is done to protect models from the pressures of staying thin. But Denmark's fashion industry is stepping up with a stringent set of new rules and regulations. 

Before working with models, brands must carry out psychological and physical evaluation, in order to catch any signs of an eating disorder or mental health issues. There is a minimum age requirement of 16, and models must also receive monetary payment for their work (which, in an industry run on gifting samples in lieu of cash, is a pretty big deal). 

And there's no shirking it either – if you're a brand that wants to show at Copenhagen Fashion Week, then you must agree to abide by the regulations. 

The Danish Fashion Ethical Charter was first established in 2007. Significantly, the revamped rules are not orders from the government; this is an industry-led initiative that has support from Denmark's eight biggest modelling agencies, along with trade associations and eating disorder charities.

Eva Kruse, the CEO of Danish Fashion Institute and Copenhagen Fashion Week, acknowledged that the country could be seen to have a bad track record on model health. Most recently, the Danish magazine Cover was criticised for featuring a model that some readers slammed as "emaciated". (One Reddit thread even asked: "Corpse or model?")

Kruse said in a statement: "Recently in Denmark and abroad there’s been some gloomy examples showing that problems with the beauty ideals the fashion industry creates continue to exist."

"The stupendous amount of support being given to the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter speaks for itself; the Danish industry is aware of its responsibility and is prepared to take a collective step towards models having better well-being and towards a body image that is healthy and not sickly. 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, which have been discussed, for instance in France.”

France recently introduced laws making it possible for fashion houses to be punished with fines or even jail time if they were found to be using models with a BMI of under 18. 

One of the core values of the Danish Ethical Fashion Charter is "to promote and work towards healthy lifestyles as well as a healthy body ideal that reflects a healthy relationship to food, body and exercise". We can get behind that.