Vogue slaps worldwide ban on under-16 models

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The editors of all 19 editions of Vogue around the world pledged Thursday to use only healthy models no younger than 16 on their editorial pages in an attempt to shift fashion's approach to body image.

Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue's flagship US edition, and Emmanuelle Alt of Paris Vogue, which touched off a furor in 2010 with a photo spread featuring a 10-year-old girl, are among the editors who agreed to the pact.

"Vogue believes that good health is beautiful," said Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Conde Nast International and a scion of the New York publishing family that privately owns the world's most influential fashion title.

"Vogue editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the well-being of their readers," he said in a statement.

The editors said that in a six-point pact to appear in their respective June issues, they would pledge not to knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or with those "who appear to have an eating disorder."

"We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help us to promote a healthy body image," they said.

The editors will also instruct modeling agencies not to send them underage models, require casting directors to check models' ID prior to photo shoots and encourage "healthy backstage working conditions," including food options.

Fashion designers, meanwhile, will be encouraged -- though not obliged -- to "consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample (dress) sizes... which encourages the use of extremely thin models."

"We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image," the editors' pact concludes.

In an email to AFP, a Conde Nast spokeswoman said the initiative was being "implemented locally as is appropriate in each market by the individual editions."

The Model Alliance, launched by New York-based fashion models in February to campaign for better working conditions, said it welcomed Vogue's "impressive lead" and hoped other magazines would follow suit.

"The use of underaged models is linked to financial exploitation, eating disorders, interrupted schooling, and contributes to models' overall lack of empowerment in the workplace," it said in a statement.

"We simply believe that 14 is too young to be working in this very grown-up industry, and we're glad that Conde Nast International is making this commitment."

In a recent survey of 241 New York-based models posted on its website (www.modelalliance.org), the Model Alliance found that 54.7 percent had started working between the ages of 13 to 16.

Sixty-four percent said they'd been asked by their agencies to lose weight.

"Eating disorders are not uncommon," according to the survey. "Models report that drug use in the workplace is rampant. And more than two-thirds of models say they suffer from anxiety or depression."

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