Catwalk model requirements are put in place to ensure that the correct individuals are found to strut the runway. These stipulations are constantly challenged by influential figures to alter a system that is deemed discriminative towards body shapes and sizes. Many are actively trying to eradicate the current restrictions to create a niche that is more open minded and accepting of others. It is a slow process with minor achievements yet each milestone is a step forward to their end goal.
The current catwalk model requirements:
A height of 5’9″
A very slim build
Aged between 16-24
Striking, facial features
A strong bone structure – high cheekbones, a defined jawline
A confident strut
A clear complexion
Healthy, glowing hair – preferably not chemically enhanced!
An impressive social media following
As you can imagine the restrictions ensure that only a select few are actually hired to grace the catwalk. Found young, usually 14-15 individuals are moulded into the ‘perfect’ candidate to represent elite fashion houses. It is rare to see petite or plus size women on the runway for Dior, Chanel or Alexander McQueen for example as it would cause controversy. A couple of months back, France launched a legislation that has banned underweight models that do not meet a certain BMI from walking the runway for safety reasons. Complying to the above requirements can cause hopefuls to eat very little and become dangerously thin, which is unsafe. France, Spain and Israel are trying to eradicate this behaviour to witness a more healthy high fashion industry.
Plus size models such as Ashley Graham are consistently campaigning for a diverse future for the niche that represents society. Absorbing figures such as these in magazines can have a negative affect on the population as they try to achieve the almost impossible. Her voice believes along with many others that a range of shapes, sizes, ages and heights should be represented on the catwalk by high end designers; a more realistic approach if you like. Yes, the fashion industry is derived from a fantasy, magical world yet a broad range of women surely can be included in this vision. There has been a few instances that demonstrate individuals views and change to the current system yet nothing has cemented this view for others to follow. The runway has welcomed pregnant, disabled and plus size models in various stunts but it is not compulsory to do so allowing many to ignore the request from society. At the moment it is up to the designer, which models they would like to use for the showcase using the requirements they are familiar with.
Do you think that the runway requirements should be more lenient or is the current situation acceptable in your eyes? As aspiring models would you be happy with being scrutinised to such an extent or feel judged and unfairly criticised. It is encouraging to witness inspirational figures actively trying to change the situation and hopefully dramatic changes will be seen in the future.