In the news recently, 23 yr old model Rosie Nelson launched a Change.org petition calling for a new law to protect models from getting “dangerously skinny”. After 112,000 votes it has gone viral and MP’s are now debating whether new legislation is needed to protect models here in the UK.
A number of countries like France & Spain already have a law to protect models by measuring their BMI, but how effective is it legislate against ‘skinny’? At what point can an MP decide who is skinny and who is naturally thin boned and then decide that they are breaking the law?
I fully agree with Rosie that models can be put under pressure to become super thin in order to book jobs and there are some models in sections of the industry that even I would class as too thin who need protection, but we have to be careful that a new law is not taken in the wrong light.
This petition is purely to stop agents and bookers abusing and causing ill health to what would otherwise be healthy models. It doesn’t mean designers and magazines shouldn’t use slender ‘straight’ sized women for their photo shoots and catwalk shows, nor does it mean that slim models are the ultimate reason why the public have body insecurities (as they tried to insinuate following Editor at Vogue UK Alexandra Shulman’s interview). What it does mean is that there should be an awareness to look after models, and as suggested by designer Heidy Rehman from label Rose & Willard it should possibly be regulated by the industry itself.
The truth is the mainstream fashion industry and publications will always use straight sized models as the designers clothes look their best when the garments drape over what is effectively a mannequin, so as not to detract from the clothes. It’s also more cost effective and easier for the designers to make samples for shoots on straight models as curvier models have such individual shapes.
As we know the average size woman in the UK is a size 16 and the likes of Jamie Oliver are campaigning against obesity to reduce that figure, but do we need to steer completely away from the use of straight size models of sizes 6-8 and use models that reflect society? In my opinion, No. Adverts, magazines and billboards are sexy, glossy and create a fantasy world that entice you into buying a product and I like that.
Don’t get me wrong, I am the first to campaign for larger sized models in the fashion industry and have blogged about this before (Are plus sized models really plus size? Will we see plus size male models? ) and with more and more bloggers giving a stronger voice online, the majority of plus sized ‘fiercely real’ women no longer rely on publications for fashion advice anyway.
In my opinion what we do need is a greater cross section of BOTH straight and plus size models where both size 6/8 and 16/18 size models are cared for and are viewed as healthy.