Body image in the fashion industry – it’s a topic that receives seemingly never-ending attention. Sometimes it’s positive but frequently it’s negative, with many models vilified (one way or another) for their shape. However today, one size 8 model – who was told to slim ‘down to the bone’ after her teeny frame (considered underweight by a large margin), was deemed “too big” by current industry standards – is trying to turn the conversation into something positive.
British model Rosie Nelson said that healthcare in the fashion industry for thin models is practically “non-existent” and is vigorously campaigning for a change.
Her petition, which has amassed almost 113,000 signatures said: “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.” She also urged that the UK should follow in the footsteps of France to criminalise the use of models who are “dangerously underweight.”
Today, Nelson alongside prominent figures – from models to the directors of major agencies – gave evidence to a parliamentary committee in London to see if elements of the petition could be brought into UK Government legislation. “I’d love to see health checks brought into legislation,” Nelson said, having revealed that many of her model friends ate only popcorn, “so that if a model is asked to lose weight she can be seen by a doctor and told about good diet plans that will give her the nutrition she needs and good exercise regimes to do.” Karen Diamond, director of Agency Models 1, also conceded that the current means of measuring model health, based on their BMI (body-mass index) – which is used internationally – is not satisfactory. UK Vogue Editor, Alexandra Shulman, agreed.
I’m honored and excited to be speaking at Parliament today. I will be giving evidence in an inquiry held by MP Caroline Nokes of the APPG on Body Image. Caroline approached me to be involved in the inquiry for models to not feel the need to go to unhealthy lengths to work in this industry. Within recent years, other countries have come forth with laws protecting the health of models in the industry. The UK inquiry taking place today will be in a style of selected committee, taking verbal evidence, but it is intended to be a collaborative approach, and hopefully will establish a useful dialogue, between models, agents, designers, academics and those working in the medical profession. Outfit | @augustgettyatelier
A photo posted by ʜᴀʏʟᴇʏ ʜᴀssᴇʟʜᴏғғ (@hhasselhoff) on
“Legislation around the issue of a person’s BMI is not a helpful way forward. It should be health and not size that counts,” she said.
Different laws have been passed worldwide to try and tackle the issue. Spain already bars models with a BMI below 18 from taking part in Madrid fashion shows, and models on Italian catwalks must show health certificates under a self-regulation code. The World Health Organisation guidelines state that an adult with a BMI below 18 is considered malnourished, and 17 severely malnourished. The average model has a BMI of 16, according to a report from The Guardian.
While the outcome of the meeting has yet to be revealed, it is positive to note that the UK are seriously considering changing the way in which their modelling industry is regulated. Nelson’s campaign highlights the ridiculousness of creating such unattainable standards and the danger they are to women – both models attempting to stay unhealthily thin, and those looking at these minuscule frames with envy.