MADRID, Spain – Spain's government has reached an agreement with major fashion designers, including the owner of the Zara chain, to standardize women's clothing sizes with the aim of promoting a healthier image. Designers such as Cortefiel, Mango, El Corte Ingles and Inditex, which owns Zara, agreed to take part in the program, which was announced Tuesday.
The program, designed by the Health Ministry, will also prevent those companies from using window displays featuring clothes smaller than a European size 38 (10 in Britain, 8 in the United States). They will have five years to phase in the change.
"It is not reasonable for a modern and advanced society to establish stereotypes of beauty that are far removed from the social reality of a community. It is everyone's commitment that beauty and health go hand in hand," Health Minister Elena Salgado said at a signing ceremony Tuesday.
The agreement follows last year's unprecedented decision by Spain's main fashion show, Madrid's Pasarela Cibeles, to ban some models from the catwalk on grounds they were too thin, saying this encouraged eating disorders among young people.
The Health Ministry's program aims to end a situation in which a woman who buys a size 40 dress from one designer may not fit in a size 40 garment from another designer. The ministry said the differences sometimes lead women to feel compelled to lose weight.
Designers should be encouraged to "promote a healthy physical image that conforms with the reality of the Spanish population," the ministry said in a statement.
The agreement also stipulates that European size 46 no longer be specifically labeled as a larger size.
As part of the effort to standardize sizes, the ministry plans to measure 8,500 Spanish girls and women between the ages of 12 and 70 to determine the true shapes of Spanish women's bodies.