News

Danish fashion industry launches world’s first health check for models

Press release 8 February 2017

Today, the Danish fashion industry unveils a private sector-financed pilot project in 2017 aimed at testing all 16-year-old models.

Since 2007 the Danish fashion industry has worked with the Danish Association against Eating Disorders and Self-harm and launched the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter, which ensures the well-being of models and helps promote a healthier, more natural beauty ideal.

The Danish Fashion Ethical Charter focuses on three core values: accountability, compassionate respect and health. The fashion industry respects and protects its employees and wants to ensure their health and safety. We value diversity and are aware of and take responsibility for the impact the industry has on body ideals. We would like to promote and work towards a healthy lifestyle and healthy body ideal that reflects a wholesome relationship to food, body and exercise.

It is therefore with great satisfaction that the Danish industry organisations, model agencies, model union and a patient organisation can announce a pilot project for 2017, financed by the private sector. The pilot project’s aim is to assess the health of 16-year-old models at the Danish Association against Eating Disorders and Self-harm.

The road to health checks
The Danish Fashion Ethical Charter was updated in 2015 with a number of permanent stipulations on age, salary and diet as well as goals for introducing a nationwide health check for models. The latter has not been a simple task because the existing Danish healthcare system is unable to provide a uniform nationwide health check focusing on eating disorders. Neither hospitals nor health centres nor private practitioners have the capacity or expertise to perform a specialised assessment of the 1000 models. Despite high public interest in thin models, the authorities have been unable to assist the industry in establishing a health check.

Taking the matter into own hands, the Danish fashion industry has spent the last year working to find a solution, resulting in a pilot project in 2017 with a health check of 16-year-old models, the age limit to work as a model. The health check pilot project will cost about DKK 200,000 annually. The cost will be paid partly by the model’s agency and partly by a contribution from the industry, which will charge customers a flate rate of DKK 75.00 per invoice when booking a model.

The basic premise is that models are not sick. However, in recognition that models are a vulnerable group due to their profession, which requires meeting specific body measurements, the initiators of the pilot project believe a health check is essential. Thus the aspiration and purpose of the health check is to quickly identify the many healthy models and to find the ones who either have an eating disorder or exhibit risky behaviour, allowing them to get the help they need to avoid becoming sick.

If the pilot project is deemed a success, the goal is to add more age groups in the future.

Who’s behind the project?
The new health check pilot project is being adopted and launched by eight of Denmark’s most important model agencies: 2PM Management, Diva Models, Elite Model Management, Gossip Model Management, Heartbreak Model Management, Le Management, Scoop Models and Unique Models, in collaboration with the Danish Association against Eating Disorders and Self-harm, Model Union Denmark, the Danish industry organisations Dansk Fashion & Textile, WEAR, Danish Fashion Institute and Copenhagen Fashion Week as well as the steering committee of the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter.


The Danish Fashion Industry signs an Ethical Charter on Models

Press release 25 March 2015

The Danish fashion industry has signed the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter, which shall ensure better well-being for models and a healthier body image. More than 300 businesses in the industry have declared their support to the new charter since its launch three weeks ago.

The debate on thin models and distorted body image has never been more heated or more current. As a result the trade associations Danish Fashion Institute, Danish Fashion & Textile and WEAR, the eight largest model agencies in Denmark, the Danish Association against Eating Disorders and Self-harm, and Model Union Denmark have launched a new, more stringent Danish Fashion Ethical Charter, which has explicit rules to ensure better well-being for models and a healthier body image in the industry.

Since its launch on 3 March 2015 signatures have flooded in from the Danish fashion industry to ally itself with the charter’s values and rules. Declarations of assent have been submitted by 320 companies from all sectors of the industry ­– from major corporations like Bestseller and DK Company to leading fashion brands such as By Malene Birger and Ganni, and from fashion magazines to design and advertising agencies, not to mention design schools, photographers and stylists.

The CEO of Danish Fashion Institute and Copenhagen Fashion Week, Eva Kruse, who is very pleased with the strong support the charter is receiving, says:

”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.”

The chair of the Danish Association against Eating Disorders and Self-harm, Anne Minor, states:

”We’re incredibly happy to see that the fashion industry is ready to get its fingers burnt to change conditions for models and to take responsibility for the body image it produces. We believe that the charter will make a difference via, for example compulsory health checks for models, which we think is the right solution compared to BMI, which cannot of course be used as a measure of physical and mental health.”

When the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter first saw the light of day back in 2007 it was originally based on a number of recommendations for terms for models involved with fashion weeks. The new 2015 charter now instead contains rules and sanctions that apply year around. The rules cover, for example an obligatory health check, a minimum age requirement of 16 and require wages for work. Moreover, admission to Copenhagen Fashion Week’s official show and event schedule now require participants to be charter signatories.

Danish Fashion & Textile’s managing director, Thomas Klausen, thinks that one of the reasons for the large amount of support is that social responsibility is already important in Danish society and especially in the Danish fashion industry:

”Of course I’m proud that we’ve succeeded in drawing such a large part of the Danish fashion industry together on this important cause, but it also honestly does not particularly surprise me. In Denmark we have a tradition for taking responsibility for our fellow human beings – which is true both in our society in general, but also specifically in the fashion industry, where in the recent decade we have worked intensively with sustainability and social responsibility.” 

The charter and a list of signatories are available at danishfashionethicalcharter.com.

The list includes, for example:

  • Corporations like Bestseller, DK Company and IC Group
  • Brands in all segments, such as By Malene Birger, Kopenhagen Fur, Ganni, Hummel, Soulland, Maria Black Jewellery, Ecco, Stine Goya and Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen
  • Magazines such as DANSK Magazine, ELLE Danmark, Alt for Damerne and Cover
  • Model agencies such as Unique, 2PM, Elite, Scoop, Le, Gossip, Heartbreak and Diva