Too Fat To Model

  • Melissa Keen

Sound familiar? Being told they are “too fat to model” is, unfortunately, a commonly used phrase heard by thousands of models in the industry.

While the very nature of modelling arguably allows for striving towards certain ideals and standards, the industry should be opposed to unhealthy expectations and body shaming.

Sadly, this hasn’t been the case – but times are changing.

Erin Heatherton Speaks Out (2013)

A Victoria’s Secret model famously came forward to talk about her experience of being forced into a bodyweight that wasn’t natural for her. While Victoria’s Secret models are naturally slim, forcing the body to endure starvation in order to lose a few pounds is harmful and unhealthy.

Erin Heatherton, who quit working with the brand in 2013, was pressured by the lingerie brand into losing more weight. Erin worked with Victoria’s Secret for 5 years but claims she was told to lose more pounds in her last two years.

Despite being on a strict diet and exercise regime, Erin felt that her body was “letting her down”. She ate well and exercised twice a day, but couldn’t drop to the fashion house’s desired weight. Of course, the reality was she didn’t need to lose weight. Their expectations for her were unrealistic and unhealthy. And because she couldn’t do it, it triggered a battle with depression which she said made her feel she had to speak out.

She said, “I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.”

Erin says she looks back now and realizes it was ridiculous. She decided to speak out because she didn’t want people who admire her to think looking like her is easily obtainable.

More Models Speak Out

And Erin isn’t the only model to have spoken out. Jazz Egger, who featured on Germany’s Next Top Model, released a YouTube video about being told she is too fat to model by an agency – despite already being underweight at the time.

If you Google “too fat to model” you’ll find plenty of stories about models who have been told they need to lose weight.

Models are finally feeling confident enough to speak up about their ill-treatment.

Are Times Changing?

Dishearteningly, models are still being treated poorly within the fashion industry. However, there appears to be a more positive movement happening. Models are speaking up, unafraid to call out those who are supporting unhealthy habits.

And it’s not just models speaking out – the industry itself seems to be listening. France recently passed a law to legally ban models who are too thin. And in 2018, Vogue said they would stop using models in their adverts as it gave a “false impression of what an average woman would look like wearing the advertised clothes”.

While it’s not much, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

How to Help

As consumers, we have to ask ourselves if we are part of the issue. Purchasing and supporting brands who use underweight or unhealthy models only increases their need for them.

It also might be worth messaging a brand if you think they don’t show enough diversity in their advertising. Brands are listening to their customers; ASOS has started using images of unedited models in their adverts, H&M have used models with disabilities in their marketing campaigns, and PrettyLittleThing are supporting plus-sized models.

Models being treated poorly will soon be a thing of the past as long as we continue to speak up.

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Posted by Melissa Keen

Melissa's experience in the beauty and fashion world as a writer and blogger spans over five years. Her other interests include reading, yoga and music.