The Italian Almanac

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strutting the catwalk

Italian News - February 5

Too many youngsters whose perfect peachy skin, gangly legs and flat chests make them ideal clothes-horses are being exploited as models before they are mature enough to cope, according to some sections of the fashion world. Now the Italian government is considering a crackdown. Responding to concerns about children who dream of being the next Natalia Vodianova or Gisele Bundchen, Industry Minister Adolfo Urso wants a code of ethics that will bar anyone under 16 from the catwalk.

The move, disclosed during the twice-yearly Roman fashion event AltaModa last week, has sparked renewed debate in Italy. Some model bookers say that the number of under-16s working on the catwalk is minimal and that it is harmless, while critics say that the pressures to look good and wear body-exposing clothes make it no place for very young girls.

Concern has grown because girls from poor families in eastern Europe are being taken to Italy to model for big money, only to find it hard to cope with life on the fashion circuit. Booker Paola Baratto said: 'We are a service industry, and designers and photographers want these very young, very thin girls.'