It's a story that's far too common: A model is told she is "too big" by her agency and asked to lose weight. She's expected to take the criticism; lose an inch or so off her hips if she wants to keep her job. But Charli Howard, a 23-year-old British model who's a size 2, fought back when her agency dumped her with this reasoning. She wrote a powerful open letter on her Facebook, decrying their body shaming. It went viral.
"The more you force us to lose weight and be small, the more designers have to make clothes to fit our sizes, and the more young girls are being made ill," she wrote. "It's no longer an image I choose to represent. In case you hadn't realized, I am a woman. I am human. I cannot miraculously shave my hip bones down, just to fit into a sample size piece of clothing or to meet 'agency standards.'"
Howard tells Dazed she posted the letter out of frustration, a day after she was dismissed. "[I] didn't expect it to have the response it did," she wrote on the site. "For a while, I'd noticed my anxiety was getting worse when I had to go into the agency. I dreaded being measured or having to take bikini Polaroids. If I was a bit bigger one day, or had spots (like the fun times I was measured on my period), they'd turn down jobs until I'd lost it again–which is hard for a woman, when your body changes naturally throughout the month. I'm not a child."
She says other models who have spoken out—particularly Cara Delevingne—inspired her. "It was an amazing step for someone of her status to come forward and speak openly about the problems she's faced, when she's quite clearly beyond beautiful–psoriasis, supposed 'weight gain,' or not. The pressures to look perfect are just too much to handle. People wonder why teenage girls are fucked up scrolling through Instagram all day and won't take any responsibility for the images they're selling."
Howard believes the industry needs to be more inclusive and accepting: "[It] needs to stop using the same tall, skinny white girls as a way of selling fashion. That's not exciting. It certainly doesn't reflect the general public, or account for the vast amount of beauty in the world."
Read her full post here.
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