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'Feeling humiliated': Australia's Next Top Model's Taylah Roberts shares her experience of Fashion Week.

Content warning: This post discusses eating disorders and may be triggering for some readers. 

Taylah Roberts was only 17 when she appeared on Australia’s Next Top Model

Before the high schooler was allowed to vote or legally have a sip of alcohol, she was thrust into the modelling industry.

It was the beginning of a tense relationship with the fashion world for the now 24-year-old photographer and doula, one that she’s since left behind. But despite Taylah’s move away from modelling, she wants other young women to know what she deems to be the truth about Fashion Week.

This week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is showcasing the craftsmanship of Australia’s most celebrated designers. But despite the glamorous connotations, it didn’t take long for Taylah, when she was walking its catwalks, to discover what it was really like.

Jessica Vander Leahy Speak On Australian Fashion And Body. Post continues after video. 

Taylah says the self-doubt that the modelling industry fostered in her caused her to suffer an eating disorder.

She says she thought about taking up smoking to curb craving to eat, despite the spreads of food we see on behind the scenes Instagram stories at MBFWA.

On Instagram on Tuesday, Taylah posted a side by side picture of herself during Fashion Week when compared to today. She wrote about the intense scrutiny of the models, and how she put pressure on her body in order to get booked.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

❗️TW❗️All I see in the photo on the left is sadness, exhaustion, insecurity and lack of worth beyond size. This is what an industry only focusing on what your outer shell looks like does to you. Especially to someone that is not supposed to be that small, I was always always fighting to stay that way. Terrified that in an instant my dreams would be ripped away from me if the number on a measuring tape had increased by half an inch. I feel blessed to have almost fully recovered from this dark place I once called home but I still get glimpses of it and it’s usually around this time of year.. Fashion week. I see past the glossy backstage images of playful smiles, toned fit bodies, the most elite of the industry and remember the 5am wake ups, your face prodded with makeup all day, on and off until your eyes are bloodshot and can’t take it anymore. Your hair is pulled, curled, straightened, gelled, brushed, broken, extensions put in then ripped out, handled like it’s not attached to a person underneath. If you don’t smoke already now is the time to contemplate it, maybe that will make me not want to eat the sweets put out whilst I stand around in a bikini, waiting to be pushed onstage in shoes that are 2 sizes too small. These are just half the physical limits you’re pushed to don’t get me started on the emotional ones. Being told “if you’re not opening or closing the show that you’re just a filler.” Feeling humiliated in a room full of models when the castings director doesn’t even bother to look up from his desk when you’ve waited in line for hours. Comparing yourself to every single other girl and racking your brain as to why you didn’t book the show that you’ve always wanted. Questioning if it was my walk, am I not pretty enough, I must not be thin enough, I’m definitely not good enough. And this is only in Australia! Where it’s deemed “not as serious,” “not as bad” and “chill in comparison to FW overseas.” I cast for couture one show season in Paris and I thank fuck I didn’t book any of those shows. Don’t get me wrong there were some highlights, some smiles and memories shared with friends but all the shit that comes with it outweighs those moments CONT.

A post shared by TAYLAH ROBERTS (@taylahroberts1) on

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“All I see in the photo on the left is sadness, exhaustion, insecurity and lack of worth beyond size. This is what an industry only focusing on what your outer shell looks like does to you,” she wrote.

“Especially to someone that is not supposed to be that small, I was always always fighting to stay that way. Terrified that in an instant my dreams would be ripped away from me if the number on a measuring tape had increased by half an inch.

I feel blessed to have almost fully recovered from this dark place I once called home but I still get glimpses of it and it’s usually around this time of year.. Fashion week.”

Taylah added that there is a competitive culture in the modelling industry that is based entirely on what you look like.

“I see past the glossy backstage images of playful smiles, toned fit bodies, the most elite of the industry and remember the 5am wake ups, your face prodded with makeup all day, on and off until your eyes are bloodshot and can’t take it anymore.

“Your hair is pulled, curled, straightened, gelled, brushed, broken, extensions put in then ripped out, handled like it’s not attached to a person underneath.

“If you don’t smoke already now is the time to contemplate it, maybe that will make me not want to eat the sweets put out whilst I stand around in a bikini, waiting to be pushed onstage in shoes that are two sizes too small.”

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“These are just half the physical limits you’re pushed to don’t get me started on the emotional ones. Being told ‘if you’re not opening or closing the show that you’re just a filler.’

“Feeling humiliated in a room full of models when the castings director doesn’t even bother to look up from his desk when you’ve waited in line for hours.

“Comparing yourself to every single other girl and racking your brain as to why you didn’t book the show that you’ve always wanted.”

But behind the champagne, music, and high heels, there remains harsh judgement of these women’s bodies.

“[I was] questioning if it was my walk… am I not pretty enough, I must not be thin enough, I’m definitely not good enough. And this is only in Australia! Where it’s deemed ‘not as serious,’ ‘not as bad’ and ‘chill in comparison to FW overseas.’

“I cast for couture one show season in Paris and I thank f*ck I didn’t book any of those shows. Don’t get me wrong there were some highlights, some smiles and memories shared with friends but all the shit that comes with it outweighs those moments.”

To hear more about size diversity in Australian modelling, listen to Mia Freedman’s No Filter interview with Curve modeling agency founder and director Chelsea Bonner below. Post continues after audio.

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The former model continued to explain that when fashion week comes to an end, models are often left without their pay for months or even years. Despite leaving with broken self-esteem, the models are repeatedly told ‘it’s good for your career’.

“I love that fashion is a form of self expression and art but at what cost? It doesn’t take a lot to treat models with respect and yet they are still treated like they don’t really exist in this world.

“No thank you, after years of feeling unworthy and left with a lot of work to do to get to the place I am now (pictured on the right) I’ll take my health, happiness and my size 12/14 ass over EVER feeling like that again.”

 

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First time in my insta life that I haven’t put a filter on a photo. Didn’t need one thanks to @fleur_rejuvenation ✨????

A post shared by TAYLAH ROBERTS (@taylahroberts1) on


Earlier this week, model Jessica Vander Leahy further critiqued Australian Fashion Week when it comes to their representation of size diversity in an Instagram post.

“Squinting to see that size diversity at Australian Fashion Week. I might not be in town [right now] but I’m watching from afar and so far, not so good,” the model, writer and Project WomanKIND founder wrote.

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“Every year, we wait to see different kinds of bodies in clothes and every year Australian Fashion Week disappoints. One or two curvier models in a handful of shows doesn’t diversity make. Why is Australia so slow on the uptake? It’s so BORING!

“For the minuscule amount of high-end Aussie designers happy to showcase on different sizes, well done! To the ones deliberately excluding women who don’t fit that narrow (white? pubescent?) size 6 ideal, what is your excuse? You can’t say you didn’t have the clothes? Fashion week rolls around every year — it’s not a surprise.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Squinting to see that size diversity at Australian Fashion Week. ???? I might not be in town rn but I’m watching from afar and so far, not so good. Every year we wait to see different kinds of bodies in clothes and every year Australian Fashion Week disappoints. One or two curvier models in a handful of shows doesn’t diversity make. Why is Australia so slow on the uptake? It’s so BORING! For the minuscule amount of high-end Aussie designers happy to showcase on different sizes, well done ????????????????????????To the ones deliberately excluding women who don’t fit that narrow (white? pubescent?) size 6 ideal, what is your excuse? You can’t say you didn’t have the clothes? Fashion week rolls around every year — it’s not a surprise. When women wise up and no longer support brands who CHOOSE not to support them I won’t feel sorry for them. They had enough time. They’ve perpetuated enough self loathing and anorexia and anxiety. Why don’t they want to be inclusive and uplifting and joyful and celebrate all kinds of women? Why? Please riddle me that? As the week rolls on let’s hope we see a more interesting display of diversity. Ideally, EVERY show should be a diverse show! #fashionweek #mbfwa Also, this is not a bitter post. I actually was due to walk in a show this week but I’m unable due to a personal issue; I believe I’m being replaced by a model with my similar measurements so go her ????????????????. This is a comment about how the week as a whole just seems to be a display of one body type wearing clothes. Nowadays so many other Fashion Weeks—New York/London—are light years ahead in terms of embracing diversity, of all kinds, on their catwalks. Australian high fashion’s collective reticence is starting to look more than embarrassing—it’s actually starting to look a little cruel. ????????‍♀️ #fashion #bopo #bodypositive #fashionweek #australiandesigners #curvemodel #diversity

A post shared by jëssica vandër lëahy (@jessicavanderleahy) on

Vander Leahy and Roberts’ messages are clear, there needs to be a diverse range of bodies in every single show. If not for the sake of the women watching the shows, then for the woman walking them.

Mamamia reached out to Taylah Roberts for comment but did not hear back before the time of publication. 

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected]. You can also visit their website, here.  

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