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Model petitions for law against industry pressure to be ‘dangerously thin’

A size 8 model who was told by a major London agency that she had to lose weight has taken a stance against the pressure to be ‘dangerously thin’ to be successful in the modelling industry.

Australian-born Rosalie Nelson, 23, who lives in London, has launched a petition calling for a law to change the industry’s attitude towards size, weight and body image.

“When I walked into one of the U.K.’s biggest model agencies last year they told me I ticked all the boxes except one — I needed to lose weight,” revealed Nelson. “So I did. Four months later I lost nearly a stone, 2 inches off my hips. When I returned to the same agency they told me to lose more weight, they wanted me ‘down to the bone’.”

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Nelson went on to talk about her experience of being surrounded by other models who are “striving to stay thin,” which can “perpetuate bad eating habits and encourage eating disorders.”

“I’ve been on shoots for up to 10 hours where no food is provided — the underlying message is always that you shouldn’t eat,” she said.

Looking at Nelson’s Instagram pictures, it’s hard to believe that anyone could possibly think she needs to lose weight. Fortunately, she refused to be pressured into getting any thinner by the unnamed London agency and is now represented by IMM in London and Modelwerk in Hamburg.
Courtesy: Rosalie Nelson/Instagram

More: France rejects ban on super-skinny models but started an important conversation

Courtesy: Rosalie Nelson/Instagram

IMM director Karsten Edwards told the Daily Mail: “We support Rosalie in her quest to make the runway a healthier place to be. It is such a shame that girls feel the need to have to lose weight to get in to the business when so many high street brands support a healthy image. We will always tell our girls to get healthy not to get thin. I am not sure the industry is capable of policing itself so perhaps a regulation similar to France wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”

Edwards is, of course, talking about the law approved by French MPs earlier this year, designed to protect young models from unreasonable weight loss demands. Once approved by the Senate, it will be illegal to use models with a BMI under a certain level (widely assumed to be under 18, but this figure has not yet been determined) in France — a crime that will be punishable by a hefty fine and up to six months in jail.

It’s far from a perfect solution. Eating disorders are complex and working out a model’s BMI, and then refusing to represent her or him if it doesn’t meet the lower limit, does nothing to address underlying psychological issues. But it has to be acknowledged as a good starting point in an industry where slim, healthy models like Rosalie Nelson are told to get “down to the bone.” If model agencies had specific guidelines to follow they wouldn’t be allowed to put crazy pressure on prospective or existing models.

Spain already bars models below a certain BMI from taking part in Madrid fashion shows and Italy demands health certificates for those who walk the runway. It’s high time the U.K. followed suit.

More: Does Whistles’ apology for its thin mannequin go far enough?

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