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Underweight Model “Too Fat” For London Fashion Week

Underweight Model “Too Fat” For London Fashion Week

In an article that details all kinds of problematic, Evening Standard writer Sri Carmichael reveals that a London modeling agency banned an underweight model from auditioning for London Fashion Week because she was “too big.”  This is despite the fact that according to British National Health Services standards, she is half a stone (seven pounds) underweight.

The modeling agency justified its actions by saying that her hip measurements had increased by two inches.  The agency, however, insisted  that they were trying to protect her from “sad” designers who want women to look like “androgynous bloody coathangers.”  Christoph Chalvet de Recy, the agency’s owner, blamed the “gay mafia” running the fashion industry who have “never fancied a girl in their life” and “don’t appreciate any curves.” 

He went on to divest himself of all responsibility for perpetuating unrealistic expectations of women through his agency, saying, “We’re a business, so we do what is required.  We think Madeline is beautiful and can get plenty of other work, but for catwalk and the big campaigns she has no chance.  It’s not that she’s fat at all – we wouldn’t tell her that – but her hips were bigger than the samples designers have. The designers want very small.”

The model (who will be going to Oxford next year), didn’t seem to want to blame de Recy or others at the agency, saying, “The agency were kind about it, and didn’t want me to be humiliated by the designers, but I felt as if they were saying I’d stuffed my face over Christmas when I’ve hardly put on any weight and I eat really healthily and exercise.  Designers need to get away from thinking only ridiculously skinny girls can sell clothes.”

Let’s take a step back here.  First of all, the homophobia in de Recy’s comment is appalling: gay men are perfectly capable of appreciating the female body, and the responsibility for “robotic” standards of beauty falls on many shoulders, including fashion agencies who perpetuate it.  Yes, it’s absurd that designers might have rejected this young woman – but if de Recy really cared, he could do something about it, instead of throwing up his hands and shifting all the blame to the designers. 

Furthermore, there’s no indication that designers would have rejected this model – if everyone remembers, there was a huge scandal last September over the presence of “plus-size” (I use quotes because they are really just normal-sized) models at London Fashion Week.   The tide could be changing – but nothing will be altered if models and agencies don’t try to challenge the system.  And agencies have a responsibility to support and fight for their models – something that de Recy is clearly not capable of doing.

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Photo from Pink Sherbet's Flickr Photostream.

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77 comments

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10:54AM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Firstly, CHRISTOPHE CHALVET DE RECY! THERE IS AN 'E'!!! Okay, he is not homophobic, hiring many gay men in the past is completely right, if the model wasn't right for the designers, don't send her. Would you use and keep a faulty DVD? You'd send it back!!! If she wouldn't be able to make money for Profile-what is the use, she may be beautiful and work in different areas of modelling but obviously not the catwalk! They want to make money-like everyone else- and they should do it properly like they've done-well done Profile!

6:47PM PDT on Mar 24, 2010

You've got to be kidding me.

1:21AM PST on Mar 8, 2010

The catwalk models are sticks. I believe in having a healthy figure, one that is toned but curvy (if you have curves). But her hips have increased by 2 inches, and that's a reason for her not to get a job?? Give me a break...and yes, the agency needs to take some responsibility - if you don't believe in it, stop perpetuating it.

8:16PM PST on Mar 4, 2010

The problem is people take fashion seriously. My motto is wear what makes you feel good and the heck with the fashion designers and their followers. I love bright colors and if 90% of the people want to wear boring black, well so be it.

I rarely spend much on clothes but if I did I would buy something from the artists that come to our big art fair every year. Their clothing items are beautiful, unique and wearable and are usually all natural fabrics.

If you want to see a great send up of the fashion industry check out Ugly Betty on TV. The main character ultimately triumphs by being smart, kind and hardworking. The fashion world is shown in all its phony, pretentious glory.

3:03AM PST on Mar 3, 2010

thank you

11:53PM PST on Mar 2, 2010

I've heard that someone in Britain wanted to broadcast a runway show in 3D. Unfortunately, they forgot that none of the models are three-dimensional.

1:27PM PST on Mar 2, 2010

Given that the average size for people has been getting taller and heavier as time goes by, I wonder who the market is for these tiny clothes, and why designers think we should be interested in purchasing fashion that barely big enough for a Barbie doll.

Much respect to the model for planning a really important new chapter in her life, heading to university.

9:13AM PST on Mar 2, 2010

this makes me sad.
no wonder so many girls develop eating disorders.

10:21PM PST on Mar 1, 2010

The fashion industry should be held to at least as high standards as the porn industry. Adult video stores all promise that their videos contain nothing that is "of purient interest" that means inciticg illegal behavior in necrophiles, pedophiles etc., without being at all interesting to heterosexuals or homosexuals . Adult video stores would ban porn containing models skinny enough to be runway models, because the law does not allow necrophelia porn. Yes, I admit to being familiar with pornagraphy, and I confidently state that every hottest selling pornographic video contains women whom their doctors call normal weight, and whom the modeling industry would call obese. women thin enough to be runway models are seen only in necro/horror videos, faking their own deaths, no one wants to see someone that thin bumping bones with someone else that thin, that's why such videos can't be found, that and the fact that the cops would shut down the video store for breaking it's promise not to provide porn that is of "purient interest'".. The modeling industry is totally out of touch with what everyone else in the world calls beautiful.

7:12PM PST on Mar 1, 2010

Good article.

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