We've all heard stories about how damaging the modelling industry can be. We've heard horrific tales of already perfectly lovely, slender women, being told they needed to lose weight. We've been told that the industry creates and promotes an unhealthy standard of beauty, a standard that can only be achieved through starvation diets. Fashion label, Rose & Willard, is trying to change these industry "facts."
Rose & Willard founder, Heidy Rehman, has decided that from this point forward, all models working with the label will have to sign a contract promising to eat in front of staff. In an essay for the Huffington Post UK, Rehman explains why she made this drastic move.
The decision came after a young model, “became delirious and started talking gibberish” after refusing to eat during a test shoot. There's more: at a casting, a group of pre-teen models told Rehman that they all felt pressure to lose weight.
When models refused to eat on set, the staff was "told on each occasion by the models that they were due to attend castings for catwalk shows and were thus ‘watching their weight’. One even said that she ‘couldn’t afford to eat’. It’s heartbreaking to hear a young woman say such a thing," Rehman writes. She even said that she's been told stories about models eating tissues to prevent their stomachs from rumbling during a shoot!
[bctt tweet="British Fashion Label Will Require Models To Eat During Fashion Shoots"]
“We will not allow her to only eat a tiny morsel or suggest she’ll eat later. The consequence of non-compliance will be that neither she nor her agency will be paid,” Rehman wrote. “Yes, it’s a form of nannying but we feel we have a responsibility to protect these young women from an industry which we believe can leave them exploited and puts them under pressure to starve themselves and damage their health and wellbeing.”
While some people have suggested this is a step too far, Rose & Willard stand behind the decision. Things are changing in the fashion industry. Just last year, France passed legislation requiring models to pass medical tests before they can work and in the UK there is talk of banning models under the age of 18 from working on the catwalk. Rose & Willard believe they are doing their small part because the best way for the fashion industry to end these health concerns is through self-regulation.
“Please note that we are not at all intending to impose draconian measures on any models,” a Rose & Willard employee explained. “We have never stated and have no intention of ‘standing over a model and forcing them to eat’…Rather the models who shoot with us will join us at lunch in an informal and friendly social setting. It need only be a small, simple meal or it can be a pizza—whatever they choose to eat will be the model’s choice. Alternatively she can choose not to sign our contract and not work with us again.”
What do you think of this requirement for employment? Is this a decision made in the best interest of the models and the fashion industry at large or is this indeed an attempt to impose draconian regulations on a model's personal liberties? If we are going to take measures to police obesity in your society, should we also take measures to prevent extreme thinness?