Mumbai: Indian models flaunted their flesh at the country's top fashion event, ditching the skinny look for healthy curves and joining the global backlash against "size zero."
With deeper cleavages and ampler derrieres, Indian models are generally better endowed than their Western counterparts, but that has not stopped them winning top global beauty pageants.
India followed Madrid last year by banning underweight models from the catwalk, saying it wanted to project an image of beauty and health, not starvation.
The diktat has forced organisers of Lakme India Fashion Week (LIFW) in Mumbai to watch out for excessively skinny models.
"We don't want to project a wrong image and promote unhealthy habits," said Ravi Krishnan, the event's consultant.
At the five-day show, skirts accentuated curvy hips and sensuous tops revealed plump bust lines, as the focus of designers and local fashionistas seemed to shift to fitness and health rather than the stick-thin look.
The show's organisers said they ran a check on models to find out if any of them suffered from eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. The health code applied to male models as well.
"My models are healthy and beautiful and they can all accentuate my clothes very well," said Abhishek Dutta, who presented his Autumn/Winter collection on Wednesday.
Since 1994, when Indian models Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai became
Miss Universe and Miss World respectively, modeling has become the aspiration of millions of Indian girls.
Indian health experts say many girls in India's cities and small towns were suffering from the brittle bone disease, osteoporosis, and anorexia due to strict dieting.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where sufferers starve themselves due to an obsessive fear of getting fat.
It has the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric illness, with 13 to 18 per cent of sufferers dying, most commonly due to heart disease or suicide, health experts say.
"We all follow rules and eat healthy. But maybe our diet is different," model Poonam Nath said.
The fashion industry has been defending itself against sometimes fierce criticism over recent months that its idealised versions of femininity led women to eating disorders.
The United Nations says India is home to 57 million of the world's 146 million malnourished children under the age of five.
But at the same time the country's growing middle class is also grappling with lifestyle ailments typical in the West, from obesity to anorexia.
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