Since the mid-’90s, when “heroin chic” was the predominant look of models everywhere, there has been an unwritten standard on the runway and in magazines. That standard is waif, and it sadly hasn’t completely gone away. Sure, you may see plus-sized models on the runway here, or a model with down syndrome there, but these are minor wins. Great wins, sure, but the fashion world is not known for being the ne plus ultra of diversity. Not yet.
In France, changes have been made. We told you about how shows or agencies using models without a healthy BMI could be fined up to $82,000. They could also serve up to six months in prison. Well, in Britain it hasn’t quite reached that point, but there are some non-governmental steps that are being taken to insure that, at the very least, models are eating.
Fashion brand Rose & Willard has included a “non-negotiable” clause in its contracts with models, which states that models must eat. And “eat” has a very strict definition, too. Models can’t grab food, only to throw it in the garbage in another room. Models also won’t be able to sit and push their food around a plate, or cut it up so as to look like they’ve been eating. They also won’t be able to just have a small cube of cheese when they’re really hungry.
Heidy Rehman, the owner of the brand, said, “The model [isn’t] just to eat a meal but eat it in our presence. She’s not going to get away with eating a slice of cucumber or throwing it away and saying ‘I’ll eat it later.'”
This contractual eating is coming at a time when Britain is hoping to take France-like stands. In 2015, a petition went around titled “Create a law to protect models from getting dangerously skinny,” and to date it has been signed approximately 120,000 times. The petition has the attention of MP Caroline Nokes, and now parliament is about to rule on an inquiry which demands that models under 18 be banned from the runway (to avoid sexual harassment and eating disorders).
These are all great steps, for sure. But is watching what they eat going to allow them to have a good relationship with food?