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Campaigning model Rosie Nelson 'told to get her weight down to the bone'

Published 30/11/2015

Models have petitioned for a law to protect young models from being pressurised into becoming dangerously thin
Models have petitioned for a law to protect young models from being pressurised into becoming dangerously thin

A model campaigning for a law that will make modelling agencies look after young models' health said constant demands by her own agent to keep losing weight left her feeling like a "slave".

Rosie Nelson, 23, who has just completed a Christmas campaign with Vogue, said she "physically couldn't" lose more weight when her agents told her they wanted her "down to the bone".

Those words were the turning point prompting her to launch a petition to ban such agencies from pressurising vulnerable young people from forcing themselves to become dangerously thin. Today she submitted the petition, complete with almost 114,000 signatures, to Downing Street.

Commenting on her treatment from the agent, she said: "I am old enough to know better, but if I had been 16, it would have been heartbreaking. It makes you feel horrible about yourself, knowing that you're not okay the way you are.

"I was already eating mostly steamed vegetables and fruit, I wasn't eating any sugar, avoiding dairy, avoiding just everything, really, and doing more than an hour of exercise every day. I felt really bad about myself, my body didn't look good, I didn't feel good about myself.

"I was becoming a slave to achieving what they wanted me to do. But I've been a model for five years and the reality of it is I am healthy the way I am and if they can't accept that then it's their loss."

The petition today was followed by an inquiry with industry professionals at Westminster, attended by plus size model Hayley Hasselhoff, daughter of American actor David Hasselhoff, and MP Caroline Nokes.

Miss Nelson's key concern is that pressure within the fashion industry to be thin can have both an emotionally and physically damaging impact on young models in the long term.

She said: "I'd love to see health checks brought into legislation, so that if a model is being asked to lose weight she can be seen by a doctor and be told about good diet plans that will give her the nutrition she needs and good exercise regimes to do.

"While she is losing weight - if she chooses to - she should then be able to get regular check-ups on her organs to make sure no damage is being done to the body, because if you do when you are young, you can damage your body for the rest of your life."

Miss Nelson said she had received little direct feedback from modelling agencies over her campaign, but said she had read an article in which one key industry professional said she did not believe the fashion world put any such pressure on models.

"I've had hundreds of comments from girls saying it's happened to them," she said. "I have strong evidence to prove that it is happening and girls are becoming anorexic and doing drastic things to get ahead as models.

"It's really upsetting. In high fashion designers want thin models so the clothes hang off them in exactly the same way, but there really isn't any reason why they can't adapt to having healthier-looking girls of more diversity and more range."

Speaking to ITV's Lorraine earlier, Miss Nelson described how she had worked on shoots up to 10 hours long where no food was provided at all, as it would be simply expected that models did not need to eat.

Earlier this year, MPs in France voted to make it a criminal offence to hire undernourished models in a bit to curb anorexia. Those who do now face hefty fines and even a six-month prison sentence.

Miss Nelson and Ms Nokes, who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on body image, are aiming in bring similar legislation to the UK.

To view and sign the petition, visit www.change.org/ModelsLaw.

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