January 31, 2006

Heidi Klum under fire in Germany for models reality show

BERLIN (AFP) - German media took supermodel Heidi Klum to task for a new fashion reality show that they charged promotes eating disorders among young women.

"Skinny Madness", screamed the daily Bild, the country's top selling newspaper. "Do you want THAT, Heidi Klum?" it asked, next to pictures of an anorexic 19-year-old named Lisa Pitney and Klum herself in a string bikini.

Pitney, who was not a contestant on the show, told Bild that she had always "admired" Klum. But she warned that "Germany's Next Top Model", in which a group of attractive young women are weeded out by a jury until one wins a modeling contract, was dangerous.

"This show is simply awful," she said. "This is what destroys young girls and drives them to an obsession with being thin." Pitney, who was described as 1.67 meters (5 feet 7 inches) tall and weighing just 44 kilograms (97 pounds), said she was now seeking help to stop extreme dieting.
The Berlin broadsheet Der Tagesspiegel said that Klum's show had launched a debate about whether anorexia had become a "status symbol".

It said that one of the candidates on the program -- 1.76 meters tall and weighing 52 kilograms -- had been voted out by the jury during the pilot episode last week because she was "too fat".
"That is clearly in the range of anorexia," the newspaper quoted the director of an eating disorders clinic in the southern town of Prien, Manfred Fichter, as saying.
It noted that some women on the show, which drew 3.48 million viewers in its first week, had spoken openly about destructive diets.

The network broadcasting the program, ProSieben, dismissed the criticism, saying the jury members were simply enforcing norms that were long established in the fashion industry.

"This debate has been around along as models have -- just think of Twiggy," a channel spokeswoman told Der Tagesspiegel, referring to the rail-thin British model who became a 1960s icon.

"Heidi Klum says several times during the show that models must eat sensibly."

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