The issue of body image in the fashion world has been frequently discussed over the past number of weeks, and not always in a positive light. Just after model Cara Delevingne’s revelations on how the industry made her miserable, Swedish model Agnes Hedengård made the headlines after her tiny, itty-bitty frame (considered underweight by a large margin), was still deemed “too big” by current industry standards. She posted an emotive video, which highlighted the ridiculousness of creating such standards and the danger it is to women – both models attempting to stay thin, and those looking at these minuscule frames with envy.
Now another model, Rosie Nelson, has taken this issue one step further and started a petition, asking the UK Government to create a law to protect people in the fashion industry from the pressure to be “dangerously skinny.” Though genuine progress towards a healthy body image in the fashion industry may be a long way off, these women are at least highlighting these ridiculously unattainable standards.
The 23-year-old said she had very personal reasons for launching her petition, which has amassed over 58,000 signatures. She said that “agencies managing and recruiting models have a responsibility to the wellbeing of girls on the catwalk at fashion week, and in the industry as a whole,” and urged that the UK should follow in the footsteps of France to criminalise the use of models who are “dangerously underweight.”
“When I walked into one of the UK’s biggest model agencies last year they told me I ticked all the boxes except one – I needed to lose weight,” she explained on the petition page.
“So I did. Four months later I lost nearly a stone, two inches off my hips.” This was deemed not enough by the unnamed agency, who shockingly told Nelson she had to lose even more weight. “When I returned to the same agency they told me to lose more weight, they wanted me ‘down to the bone’.”
How can any woman be expected to have a healthy relationship with her body with appalling comments and attitudes like that? But just like Hedengård, Nelson said the industry was to blame, adding that she refused to give into pressure and lose any more weight.
A photo posted by Rosalie Nelson (@rosalienelson) on
“When I look in the mirror I see someone that is healthy and comfortable in their skin. That’s because I had the guts to carve out my own path and refuse to let people pressure me into losing more and more weight,” she said.
Nelson’s cause has gained the support of British MP Caroline Noakes, who wants to help. “This is an industry that has failed over many years to regulate itself, we have repeatedly seen underweight, painfully thin models on the catwalk, and what the APPG will look at if there is a way that this can be regulated,” said Nokes.
While this is a positive step towards potentially regulating a more attainable body ideal for women (and there have been other notable changes thanks to Emma Roberts and Madeline Stuart), it seems we are a long way off before this is universally treated and acknowledged as ‘normal’ in the industry.