London, Feb 10 : Being super thin is a criteria necessary for female models, but now the trend has moved on to the males as well.
The controversy over 'size zero' catwalk models moved from women to men after skinny male models with waists as small as 28in made an appearance at the New York Fashion Week earlier this month.
Now, everybody's eyes are set on the upcoming London Fashion Week, where many experts predict ramp shows from similar skinny male models.
The show organisers insist that the health of models is one of their top priorities, but they admitted that no models would be barred on the grounds of being too thin.
The main concern of health campaigners is that the trend towards skinny male models could worsen the growing problem of eating disorders among young men.
In New York, Stas Svetlichny, who walked the ramp for Duckie Brown collection, typified the trend towards thin models.
His body mass index (BMI) of 20 is at the very bottom of the scale generally considered healthy.
Fashion writer John Davidson admitted that the craze for 'size zero' models is now affecting the male side of the industry.
"There is a big drive towards the skinny trend in menswear, with a lot of straight lines and sharp cuts in the clothing. In high fashion, boys on international shows are much thinner than they used to be," the Scotsman quoted him, as saying.
He further said that male models are not only decreasing in size, but also in age.
"The skinny androgynous look is in, and the boys who can achieve this look are often only 16 years old," he said.
Atta Yaqub, a Glasgow-based model, said: "The thin look is definitely in right now, and I expect there will be a lot of skinny men on London catwalks during Fashion Week.
"Male models are being forced to conform to a thin body shape like female models, and this has resulted in a kind of skinny schoolboy look. Young male models are under a lot of pressure to be thin," Yaqub said.
Dr John Morgan, an eating disorders specialist, warned that the trend for skinny male models could lead young men to develop a negative body image.
He also said that earlier eating disorders affected gay men, but that now more heterosexual men were starting to be affected by the pressures of looking a certain way.
"For the last 20 years, the rates of body image disparagement for women have been similar to those for gay men. However, research among younger male students has suggested that heterosexual men are starting to follow the same pattern, and are being affected by the pressure to look good," he said.