- Anglo-Dutch consumer products group Unilever PLC decided to ban super-slim models and actors from its advertising, joining growing global ambitions to fight eating disorders such as anorexia.
Fashion designers, model agencies and the media have been widely attacked for promoting an emaciated look which critics say contributes to eating disorders among young girls.
"Unilever has adopted a new global guideline that will require that all its future marketing communications should not use models or actors that are either excessively slim or promote 'unhealthy' slimness," Ralph Kugler, president of Unilever's home and personal care division, said on Tuesday.
Unilever, which makes Lipton teas and Skippy peanut butter, said it will not impose strict criteria for models and actors, but all brand directors and agencies would be expected to use a Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 25 as a guideline for models and actors.
BMI is a measure expressed as a ratio of weight to height. The World Health Organization considers anyone with a BMI below 18.5 underweight. A BMI below 17.5 is one of the criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa and a BMI nearing 15 is usually used as an indicator for starvation.
The issue of size zero or "skinny models" has dogged fashion shows and the beauty industry around the world after two anorexic Latin American models died last year.
It came under the international spotlight during the spring fashion season in New York, Milan, Paris and London this year after Madrid last year banned models with a BMI below 18 from taking part in fashion shows.
Unilever ranks behind Nestlé SA and Kraft Foods Inc. among the top global food companies and spent more than €5-billion ($7.5-billion) last year on advertising and promotion, according to Dutch media.