By MIA FREEDMAN

There are two ways to react to the news that a size 8 supermodel is being called fat this week.

1. Think to yourself (or perhaps say out loud) ‘what the actual fuck’.

2. Take a moment to feel sad for all the women – and men – involved in an industry with such a toxic, warped view of what bodies ‘should’ look like.

So which do you choose?

I’m gonna go with both. First up, Jessica Gomes, the newly crowned Princess of David Jones who replaced Miranda Kerr who replaced Megan Gale as the face, body and spokesmodel for the iconic department store last week when she walked the catwalk at their Spring/Summer show.

And was immediately called fat.

One journalist at the event wrote of overhearing the following comments: “You’d think she would have gone to the gym before the show,” said one male attendee. “Can you see her stretch marks?” asked another.

This is the woman they were describing at the time:

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Jessica Gomes on the runway. Image from David Jones’ Facebook.

I happened to cross paths with Jessica Gomes at Channel 9 that same morning when she came in to do a segment on the Today show. My first impression of her was: tall. My second impression was: thin.

Jessica Gomes David Jones Fashion Launch 2013.

Hey, she’s a model. So no big surprise there from an industry who defines beauty through parameters smaller than the teeth in a nit comb.

But that was the view of a civilian like me, not someone who works within the fashion industry, where everyone appears to have extreme body dysmorphia when it comes to judging what a woman’s body should look like. And apparently, it’s a lot skinnier than Jessica Gomes.

That pretty much covers the ‘what-the-actual-fuck’ aspect of possible reactions to the news that Jessica Gomes has been described as fat.

Which brings us to the second reaction: sadness. Because when my exasperation and anger at the way the fashion industry portrays women dissipates, what I’m inevitably left with is a feeling of profound sadness that so many young girls are drawn to something that so brutally hammers home the idea they’re not good enough – even when they’re at the top of their game like Jessica Gomes. Models are paid because of the way they look – no other reason – and yet they are slaves to a fashion master who cannot ever be sated by human flesh. They have become so used to drinking in the dramatically digitally altered images of women that appear in every magazine and fashion advertisement that they are shocked – and repulsed – by an actual real life woman. Even when she’s among that teeny tiny minority of women who are considered so genetically perfect that their looks have become their jobs.

To the girls who dream of being models, I want to say ‘Dream bigger!’. Don’t be the girl on the catwalk who is valued purely for her exterior and judged cruelly for her weight. Be the woman CHOOSING the models or designing their clothes. Be the photographer or the CEO of the department store.

Have a voice.

Jessica’s response to the ridiculous commentary about her weight was – sadly yet predictably – not to speak up but to post a sexy lingerie photo of her body to Instagram. Tellingly, the photo was headless.

Jessica Gomes instagrams picture in response:

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Because let’s be brutally honest here, when you’re a model, it doesn’t matter what you say or who you are. Just how you look. And how other people perceive you to look – even when they’re viewing you through twisted, misogyny glasses.

If you’re cool with that, then by all means, pursue a modelling career or encourage your daughter to pursue one. Just remember that no matter how successful you become, for many people in the industry – people in charge of giving you work –  you’ll never be thin enough. Or young enough. Or beautiful enough. Or….enough.

Jessica Gomes on the runway:

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Jessica Gomes on the runway. Image from David Jones’ twitter account.



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