The fashion industry has been preying on young girls and boys for years – but Vogue has decided that now is the time to step up their game.
The magazine has recently agreed to not use models under the age of 18, as it gives a false impression of what an average woman would look like wearing the advertised clothes. And while this is a small step towards a healthier standard within the fashion industry, there is still a long way to go.
Some modelling agencies have claimed to have taken a step in the right direction too – DNA Models and The Society Management, both based in New York, have stated they wont submit new models under the age of 18 for Fashion Week.
However, DNA Models will keep any models currently under 18, who have previously walked for Fashion Week, in that cycle.
The practice of using underweight and underage models has been in the news for years now, and aside from the odd campaign of diversity, there doesnt seem to be much change actually happening within fashion. Big name designers and high street stores still use very thin and often very young models to showcase their latest season collections.
After modelling in Australia for two years, I moved to London and met with some of the biggest agencies here. All of these agencies said I was either too fat at size 8, or too old at 21.
One agency said they would take me on if I lost some weight – so I did. I lost around 10 kg (20lb) from my already thin 58kg body, and when I went back to see the agency, they said they wanted my bones to stick out more. Thats when I decided I would stand up for myself, and for every other model, and start my petition.
Modelling is a tough industry to work in; theres a lot of competition for jobs, a lot of jealousy among your peers and a lot of attention paid to every little detail about you as a person.
I was once told by my agent that I should never talk to the client, I should never show my personality and I should never smile. I was only there to be a blank canvas to the designer and photographer. I was told to not be myself.
Nearly every model I know has been harassed by a photographer, or felt uncomfortable at a job, or has been instructed to go on an extreme diet.
To put that into perspective, imagine being 15 years old, being told to be thinner and to never be yourself – all from your agent. Your agent is the person deciding how your life in fashion is going to be, and theyre the one telling you to keep your mouth shut and your body thin.
This shouldnt be a game of cat and mouse. We shouldnt have to chase the fashion industry for the problems to be fixed.
I have personally met with a certain head of fashion here in London who simply didnt care about making a change, even if it would be saving young girls and boys lives. The people who hold the most power are often the ones who care the least.
With my petition, I will hopefully be able to speak in Parliament again and have legislation brought in to help create a new standard for health and safety within fashion. The Model Alliance, based in New York, has been doing great work for models rights in the US but we need something in place here in the UK too.
The idea of change is often scary, but in this case, I can only see it as being positive.
The fashion industry is comparable to Pandoras Box – all the evils have been unleashed, and called out, and now all thats left is hope for change.