The fashion world has taken a lot of heat for setting beauty standards that are unattainable and unrealistic, and made headlines yet again after a leading modelling agency confirmed that models who are a U.K. size 12 or over are considered to be “plus size”.
Following model Rosie Nelson’s bid to change the law to protect models from getting “dangerously skinny” with a petition that has, to date, gained over 114,000 signatures, a parliamentary inquiry into the matter has flagged some major issues.
On Monday, the director of Models 1, Karen Diamond, confirmed that anyone who is a U.K. size 12 or over is considered to be “plus size” — a clothing size that is typically considered to be a medium — although the division is not labelled as such.
“We don’t call it plus size, we call it our curve division. It starts at size 12, so they are not big girls,” Diamond said, as reported by the Daily Mail. She continued to explain that if you want to walk the catwalk, you have to have a certain body type.
“There are certain measurements that are required to be a fashion model,” she said. “I don’t think they are unreasonable or unachievable for somebody if they have the right body type.” She later added that it did not mean the girls were unhealthy.
Although Diamond did defend most of the company’s practises, she reportedly also admitted that designers’ sample sizes needed to be bigger and that designers’ requirements can at times be “bordering on the physically impossible”.
“Some want girls with hips as small as 33 inches,” she said.
Nelson wants a “body law” to be passed to help protect young women and, according to The Sun, agency bosses, doctors, models and eating experts all gave evidence to MPs on Monday to help reach a decision.
Nelson herself also gave evidence, claiming that she once saw a woman faint on the catwalk from not eating, only to quickly be replaced by another very slim model. However, Models 1 claimed they would never work with someone who was ill.
“They have been told to do this so they don’t gain weight,” Nelson said, according to the Daily Mail. “And it’s often medically inappropriate.”
The fact that women are urged to be a certain body type, to lose weight and to abstain from food is a poignant reminder of just how damaging this industry can be to someone’s self-esteem and body image. But it’s also a comment on society and how we view women as expendable commodities that are easily replaceable.