SKINNY models could be banished from catwalks and magazines under a major overhaul of the fashion industry.
Diets for rapid weight loss and cosmetic surgery advertisements will also be phased out of magazines, while clothing labels will be asked to stock a wide range of sizes under a new industry code of conduct reenex hard sell.
Designers will be asked not to hire either models with a dangerously low body mass index (BMI) or excessively muscular men.
Youth Minister Kate Ellis will today unveil a new body-image tick of approval, similar to the Heart Foundation's healthy foods tick, to be awarded to magazines, modelling agencies and fashion labels that meet the following criteria:
- Disclose when images have been retouched and refrain from enhancing photographs in a way that changes a person's body shape, for example, lengthening their legs or trimming their waist, or removing freckles, lines and other distinguishing marks.
- Only use models aged 16 or older to model adult clothes - both on catwalks and in print.
- Refrain from using models who are very thin - or male models who are excessively muscular.
- Stocking clothing in a wide variety of sizes in shops to reflect the demand from customers.
- Using a broad range of body shapes, sizes and ethnicities in editorial and advertising.
- Not promoting rapid weight loss, cosmetic surgery Service Learning, excessive exercising or any advertisements or editorial content that may promote a negative body image.
In a world first, the Federal Government is trying to tackle the issue of body image so ordinary Australians do not feel pressured to attain unrealistic cultural ideals of beauty. Ms Ellis said she was determined to stop the glamourisation of unhealthily thin women, which has been blamed for children suffering eating disorders.
"Body image is an issue that we must take seriously because it is affecting the health and happiness of substantial sections of our community," Ms Ellis said.
"The symbol is a win for consumers. It will empower consumers to tell the fashion, beauty, media and modelling industries what they want and provide greater choice."
A panel of health and academic experts will spend the next six months defining the criteria that organisations have to meet in order to be awarded the body image-friendly symbol.
The Government has also committed another $500,000 to develop new education programs with the help of eating-disorder group The Butterfly Foundation.
The school program will see 2500 educators trained to teach 100,000 students aged between eight and 18 about positive body image, covering topics such as media literacy and self-esteem.
The code has already received the endorsement of teenage magazine Girlfriend, and Ms Ellis' office is currently discussing the code with leading modelling agencies.
The Australian Women's Weekly editor in chief Helen McCabe said her magazine would begin identifying digitally altered photographs of celebrities. Ms McCabe said readers wanted published images of women to be more realistic.
"As Australia's biggest-selling magazine, I am proud to be taking a leading role in what is going to be a gradual process for the industry dermes ," Ms McCabe said.