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Celebrities urged to campaign against use of skinny models during fashion week

Published 19/02/2016

Campaigners are concerned about the use of skinny models
Campaigners are concerned about the use of skinny models

The founder of a British fashion label has suggested that celebrities should boycott fashion week in protest at the use of ultra skinny models.

Heidy Rehman last month announced her label Rose & Willard will only use models who agree to eat on shoots after some became so hungry they were "delirious and talking gibberish".

Speaking on the first day of London Fashion Week, Ms Rehman told the Press Association top names such as Karl Lagerfeld, head designer at Chanel, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour should take a stand against very skinny models.

And she called for A-listers to shun catwalk shows that continue to use underweight models.

She said: "If you actually had, as an example, celebrities shunning fashion week. They are all sitting on the front row, if they said 'We are not going to condone these skinny girls that are walking up and down here so we are not going to go'.

"Or standing up and turning their back on the catwalk, that would be extraordinary - someone to boycott it.

"Half of the story of fashion week isn't just what are the new trends, it is 'who is sitting on the front row?' It is almost an endorsement of the brand that you have got these celebrities.

"That could be the beginning of the movement."

She said "the customer doesn't realise how powerful they are" and called for the launch of a social media campaign like that against the controversial 'Are you beach body ready?' adverts.

The advert, which saw a bikini clad model pose next to weight loss products, sparked outrage among many and claims that it objectified women.

It was eventually banned by the Advertising Standards Authority because of concerns overs its weight loss claims.

Ms Rehman said the public should apply a similar moral pressure to the use of thin models.

While top movers and shakers in the fashion industry should also take a stand, she said.

"In terms of the designers you are talking about the main names at fashion week - longstanding members of the institution who everyone else looks up to," she said.

"If you had Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour say 'We discourage the use of ultra skinny models and encourage the use of healthy models', I would bet my life that everybody else would change."

Ms Rehman said her brand's policy of having models eat on shoots has been widely misinterpreted, and branded as "ludicrous" claims the label would stand over models and watch them eat.

She acknowledged some will be under so much pressure to stay thin they may choose not to work with Rose & Willard because of its new clause.

But she said designers have a moral obligation to take a stand.

She said: "We had a casting for our last campaign, about 12 models came in. I always ask 'are you under pressure to lose weight?' and without exception they said 'yes'. And they are a size eight a lot of them. You think 'what? Really?'

"We have been told of situations where models have eaten tissues to stop their stomachs grumbling.

"We have got a model lined up for our next shoot and we are going to be very public about the fact that our model does eat at our shoot and that she is under no pressure, certainly from us, to lose any weight."

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