The London Fashion Week Spring 2016 shows have wrapped up but there is currently an investigation going on in the UK that may change what next season’s shows will be like. Members of Parliament are looking into whether very thin models should be banned from walking the runway after a petition about the cause received over 53,000 (and counting) signatures. What’s different about this petition? The petition protecting models from becoming “dangerously skinny” was started by an actual model.
Model Rosie Nelson started the Change.org petition. Rosie is a UK size 8 to 10 (US size 4 to 6). She explains in the petition that one of the biggest modeling agencies in the UK said “she ticked all the boxes but one–[she] needed to lose weight.” Rosie lost 2 inches off her hips and a stone (14 pounds). When she returned to the modeling agency four months later, she was told that she still needed to lose more weight because they wanted her “down to the bone.”
Rosie writes in the petition that modeling agencies have a responsibility for the well-being of runway models and throughout the industry. She says that modeling can be a very isolating job when you’re traveling. Furthermore, she explains when you’re living in shared accommodation with other models, it can perpetuate bad eating habits. Rosie also gives an example of how she has done 10-hour shoots where there was no food. She says that “the underlying message is always that you shouldn’t eat.” Rosie wants a law created to protect models from becoming dangerously thin.
The Guardian reported that Rosie is not in favor of looking at models’ body mass indexes (BMIs) to keep them healthy. BMIs can be inaccurate so she would like to see mandatory health checks put in place. Rosie explains, “I would prefer a mandatory health check for models every three to six months, which would be an incentive for agencies to take better care of the models they work with, making sure they’re healthy.”
The petition has received lots of support from other models, agencies and members of the public. The Guardian stated that Parliament’s investigation will begin in November. Caroline Nokes MP, the leader of the parliamentary group on body image, is going to invite members of the fashion industry to discuss whether legislation is needed. She would prefer a code of conduct and sees legislation as a last resort but states the fashion industry hasn’t responded to calls for change.
If legislation is put in place, the UK wouldn’t be the first country to have laws on very thin runway models. France recently put a ban on models who have a BMI lower than 18 on the runway. Agencies who break the rule, could end up in jail. Several other countries have put rules in place to help ensure models are healthy including Italy, Spain and Israel.
London is a fashion capital of the world and one of the four main events during Fashion Month. If they create guidelines or any legislation to protect models, it will help set the precedent for the rest of the industry and help keep models healthy.
Check out Change.org to see Rosie Nelson’s petition.
(Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images)