There’s an unspoken code in the fashion industry among models and people who love to wear couture: don’t mention how hungry you are. Better to just say that you eat like a horse and have a fast metabolism, ‘kay?
But occasionally, someone breaks ranks. News.com.au reports:
TWO international fashion heavyweights have finally admitted they have to starve themselves to fit into haute couture clothes.
Male model Andrej Pejic and fashionista Daphne Guinness said they needed to go hungry to look good.
Pejic, who has modelled womens clothing for Jean-Paul Gaultier, has told Grazia magazine that he lives in a state of semi-starvation to fit into the designer outfits, sparking anger from nutritionists who labelled his comments as irresponsible.
The 20-year-old said he followed a strict low-calorie diet and had lost inches from his waist.
“Let’s be honest. You can’t eat much if you want to do this. To do womenswear I have to be disciplined.”
OK, so not only does he not have a woman’s body because he’s a man (and yet still considered by many designers and photographers to be the ultimate female model which is why he models WOMENSWEAR), he’s STILL not thin enough!
Sorry, let’s get back to news.com.au:
“Meanwhile, fashionista Daphne Guinness has also revealed she goes hungry so she can wear designer clothes.
During an interview with New York magazine, the journalist and haute couture collector turned down her personal assistant’s offer of a bowl of pasta, saying: “If I eat, I can’t work. I’ll eat when I’m dead.”
Pejic’s manager Matthew Anderson of Chadwick Models said most models have a healthy lifestyle and are disciplined when it comes to food and exercise. “The ones [models] who do well are the ones who work out and do what’s required and that does not mean starving yourself,” Anderson told news.com.au. “I think the majority of people in this industry don’t struggle to be something they are naturally not.”
But nutritionists failed to see the lighter side of the model’s comments, even if they were intended to be tongue in cheek. Nutrition Australia said they sent the wrong message to young vulnerable people who may already be suffering self esteem issues.
“He is a role model who young people look up to so these sorts of comments can plant ideas in their heads,” a spokeswoman for the organisation said.
“He needs to realise the impact his words have, he is a celebrity. I think he needs to think about comments like this and be more responsible.
This makes my head hurt. The fact that models have to starve themselves to meet the expectations of the fashion industry is screwed up enough. Isn’t that the problem? Surely they shouldn’t then keep silent about it? Or pretend that they eat normally when they don’t?
Perhaps my logic is messed up but I would have thought it was better that people admitted what it really took to fit the ridiculous sample sizes provided by designers to send down runways and appear in magazine fashion shoots.
In 2008, the hugely influential Council of Fashion Designers of America hosted a “Beauty of Health” discussion, where designer Michael Kors, internationl model Coco Rocha, and casting agent James Scully all spoke out about the plight of models and their weight.
Kors threw in a designer’s perspective, suggesting that his peers should “stay away from child-size clothes unless [they're] designing for children,” and pointing out that when designers offer such small sample sizes and celebrities starve themselves to fit into them, their super-skinny aesthetic has a far-reaching impact on the general female population.
Next up to the podium was Coco Rocha, who just like Natalia Vodianova and Ali Michael before her, admitted that the job comes with some very unhealthy habits. Two years ago, she weighed 108 pounds (at 5’10″), and yet people were stilling telling her “you need to lose more weight. The look this year is anorexic. We don’t want you to be anorexic, we just want you to look it.” Even crazier, an agent once advised her to throw up after meals.
Eventually, she submitted to the pressure. “Last season I took diuretic pills. Once I took so many on an empty stomach that I was doubled over for hours. That’s the last time I ever did something so terrible to my body.” She asked designers to provide healthier food at their shows — “No one wants to be caught with that photo ‘Model Eats Cake’” — and to make their fit models, and therefore their sample sizes, bigger — models are humiliated when zippers won’t zip up at castings.
Finally, casting agent James Scully advised insiders to consider the weight of their words. “Let’s stop treating models like greyhounds we plan to shoot after a race. We have to remember we are dealing with real people who have real feelings.”
There’s so much buck-passing that goes on with this debate. The designers say they make the samples that small because it’s expensive to use more fabric to make larger sizes (!) and that the magazines WANT small clothes because they want to use small models.
Model agencies say they simply supply models to meet the demands of magazines and fashion designers.
And magazines say they have to use tiny models because the clothes supplied to them by the designers are tiny.
STOP THE BULLSHIT.
Someone needs to step up and do something proactive instead of just buck passing and shoulder shrugging. Who will it be?
Until that time, the more models who speak up about what it really takes to look they way they HAVE to look if they’re going to get work in the fashion industry, the better.
Here’s some more shots of Andrej:
Andrej Pejic is a 19-year-old high fashion model from Melbourne who has gained international fame for modelling both men's and women's clothes.