I’m weighing in on the underweight models debate

You know that feeling when things are bubbling away in your head and you realise that, like that fresh bottle of SodaStream tonic water you made yesterday afternoon, there is only room for so many bubbles in a bottle?

Yes, that feeling.

That’s what’s been happening in my head over the past few days.

For those not living in the biggest bubble of them all – the fashion bubble – Australia’s Fashion Week has been happening this week in Sydney.

It’s an industry-only event that attracts buyers and media interested in getting a preview on the next season’s fashion collections from some of Australia’s top designers.

Fashion Week is not a small affair and it costs thousands for designers to get involved. They get involved to get noticed.

What tends to get noticed more than the clothes every year is the size – or lack thereof – of the models wearing the clothes.

This is what gets most reported by mainstream media during Fashion Week.

Rightly so, I say. But I also say, why limit the debate about underweight models to just one week every year?

The pin-up girl/scapegoat for this year’s debate is Cassi Van Den Dungen – a former runner-up in TV show Australia’s Next Top Model. Cassi arrived back in Sydney, fresh from working in Paris and on to the runway for the Alex Perry show.

Cassi van den Dungen for Alex Perry MBFWA 2014 | Photo Getty Images

Cassi Van Den Dungen for Alex Perry MBFWA 2014 | Photo Getty Images

Alex even went on morning television yesterday morning and said he should never had cast her in his show. He takes full blame and says it was a “serious lapse of judgement”.

Marie Claire editor Jackie Frank got straight on the phone to Cassi’s agent after the show and said, “why is that girl walking down the runway when she’s clearly not healthy?”.

Personally, I think that the only person who really knows if another person is healthy is their GP or health care provider – and that applies to all people of all weights – but I think Jackie’s phone call was a significant one.

Alex’s admission was significant too.

Jackie’s and Alex’s actions won’t change an industry overnight.

They may register a blip but if that blip is at all strong enough to get those within the fashion industry talking and acting then I’m going to add my weight to the debate too.

To understand the magnitude of what we’re dealing with here if change were to happen, you need to understand how the fashion industry works.

And when I say understand, I don’t expect you too u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d it. Because to understand it means that we – the fashion consumer – have to attempt to make some sense of an industry that makes little sense at all.

The players are all heavily invested in the industry and rely on each other to keep it ticking over each season.

So, who are the main players?

The fashion designers and the fashion magazines.

The designers’ PR agencies, modelling agencies and their models play the support acts.

Let me explain in a nutshell how it wall works. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation but I’ll give it a shot.

A designer creates a new fashion collection. Once the designs are designed, they are made into “samples”.

These samples are generally cut to a size 6 or 8 pattern. (There is only one designer I know who does this differently – and always done so. Queensland designer Sacha Drake also cuts and creates a size 14 at this sample stage.)

Those samples are used to sell the collection to retailers – a second set of samples is held in-house or at the designers’ PR agency as garments to loan to media – mostly magazines – for fashion shoots and spreads.

When the magazines choose a designers’ garments for a shoot, they then seek out models for that shoot. The models have to fit those samples.

See the circle that’s in place? It’s a vicious one and it’s not just happening in Australia, it’s worldwide.

For real change to happen, the main players – and the supporting acts – all need to agree to the change with a united and global front.

I live in hope that that will happen. I have to have that hope.

Hope that the next generation of fashion lovers have role models who are fit, athletic and healthy.

Hope that the current generation of fashion lovers has something offered to them that is not an unattainable ideal.

Because it’s an unattainable ideal that we have to work with right now.

We are all mostly visual people. This means that we need the visual to help us understand a concept. In this case that concept is understanding and imagining how a fashion garment might look on us.

Do you think the current fashion industry players help us with that?

I don’t.

We are presented an image of a woman wearing an outfit that mostly would not fit our lifestyles. That’s if the outfit even fit us in the first place.

And that image is one of a young woman. Even if the label or brand in question is not aimed at young women.

Very few labels market to their demographic with a campaign that speaks to their customer.

It’s no wonder that my Model and Me posts – posts I’ve been writing for almost three years – continue to have a popular following.

All I’m doing is offering a size 14-16 alternative. What this does is give women a visual cue other than the size 6-8 one they’re served up.

What it also does is sell clothes.

In the past couple of years some online retailers have also invested to offer a different sizing visual.

Everyday Cashmere is one of the latest. Female for Life shows activewear on two sizes and Queensland label Maiochhi last year used some of its customers as models in a campaign.

I’d like to see more. Many more.

It flips the fashion marketing model on its head, putting buying power in our hands – the consumer.

With this kind of power comes influence. And with influence comes change.

Global change to the way the fashion industry conducts itself has to start somewhere.

I can’t think of a better place than with the very people who want to buy the end product. Can you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts? On underweight models? On the way fashion is marketed to you? On designers or brands who you think make it easier for you to visualise yourself in a garment? Share in the comments below.

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  • Caroline

    There is a simple solution. The federal government must bring in a legal requirement to use minimum measurements for sample sizes – make it a size 8 and specify the minimum measurements – and then heavily fine those designers who don’t comply.
    Designers will then be forced to use models that are normal-skinny, instead of sick-skinny, and the fines will be a deterrent not to break the law as they’re all going broke at the moment anyway.

  • 26 Years & Counting

    It’s not even so much size but shape that bothers me. I cannot buy anything without trying it on to see how it suits my shape. While models of different sizes would certainly help, it doesn’t actually help me personally.

  • Archie Lane

    As a clinical psychologist who deals with eating disorders, mental health, addiction etc on a daily basis this post and its following comments has fascinated me. The picture represented is visually shocking no denying that, but it is simply part of a much larger issue. Studies do not determine that a picture like this results in the larger community of adolescent teenagers trying to aspire to an image that is unreachable. The larger picture is not the image, the larger picture is a generation of girls, young women lacking self confidence and direction in themselves. Quite often as parents we are quick to blame the media for our children losing themselves to disorders or addiction when the truth is lack of confidence begun long before the media had the opportunity to influence. Teach your children strength, teach your children resilience and teach your children to love themselves. This is the greater picture, easy to blame not so easy to take some blame also.

    Yes the picture is confronting but as mentioned below people do have a voice and opinion. Dollars are a powerful tool, its just a shame it only speaks when fashion shows are present.

    Well done Nikki for tackling an issue that is ongoing, confronting, thought provoking and gets a conversation started xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks so much for your professional outlook here. The bigger picture is so not the image above. That image and model have become scapegoats for a whole industry problem. I do agree that as parents we have a huge duty of care here when it comes to our kids – something I’ve aimed to do – but when they become teenagers our influence is not what it was. It’s still there and I’m lucky that mine still listen to me occasionally but it’s not the main voice any longer.

      • Archie Lane

        With my professional hat on the amount of self confidence and resilience in teenagers has been determined long before a child turns 13. If parents are waiting until their children are teenagers to teach such skills they are behind the game. My own children range from 17, 16, 14 and 13 and even as a professional I shake my own head at their actions and thoughts sometimes. I guess what I was attempting to say is that yes as a parent of teenagers the influence you have is diminished somewhat, but their formation of morals, beliefs and self perspective has been determined in their formative years. Parents worry so much about baby age and teenage age yet seem to forget the gap in between that really is the most crucial of them all. Marketers are quickly realizing the ‘tween’ age is the most easily influenced and targeting this demographic heavily. The main voice is media, but the work is already done. If that makes sense. It is possible to shield if the early years are clearly laid out. Intriguing topic, it really is and one I could continue to really delve deeply into, but probably not the forum for it here. The fashion industry needs to take a good look, but while Paris heavily influences the choices it seems a long way off. Alex Perry in the giant scheme of things, if brutally honest, really has as much overall say as I do. Yes great he went on TV and apologized, yet he should not of made the choice in the first place, he himself was a victim of social pressure the moment he said sorry for placing her in his show.

        • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

          Makes so much sense and I completely agree about those tween years – heading into those again so remembering the work that’s needed!

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  • http://www.mdkaos.blogspot.com/ Mummaducka

    My apologies to the model who is most likely a naturally super thin person with a hard to manage metabolism or whatever, but this sort of emaciated body shape is actually (more than) repulsive to the general population, young and old. It is a look reminiscent of the aftermath of a concentration or POW camp. We could even make a comparison to the drought ravaged stock we are looking at lately in Australia. We all so much more appreciate the sensational appearance of a healthy athlete! a well covered(with muscles and padded flesh) body is our idea of total perfection. I like the look of a healthy body that is able to carry around more than the clothes on their back and their bobble heads. I doubt many of those models would last a day doing a job with physical exertion. How many could lift a bag of dog biscuits or chook food and carry them to the car? several times a day? Now that’s normal life! Our young people, both girls and boys, have suffered for too long from all of this, self esteem issues, body image issues, eating disorders are just so awful for our impressionable youth and their families. We can make change! Don’t buy the magazines that include these poor frail waifs and don’t buy the clothes from those labels that perpetuate this sort of crap. Quite simple really. Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen! Just take a stand.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Healthy and strong is what I am inspired by within myself Mummaducka. In cases like runway shows – the designers are not “selling” the clothes to the consumer. They’re selling to the magazines. I agree, taking small stands add up to a big difference.

  • Anna

    Im a bridal designer whose majority of clientele are a 14+ my work is not being featured as I use real bodies to market my real gowns to real people. I don’t promote this “deathly” look it’s a shame that because I’m a realist in touch with real people – I guess my work isn’t going to be celebrated public ally while images like the above is what is expected to be successful !!! There is no way this model is a 6 I’ve seen 6′s and they are tiny but are not emancipated like this.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh Anna, my hat goes off to you for marketing your gowns in a way in which we can relate. Thanks for being a leader.

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  • Kat

    Great discussion Nikki! What stands out for me is the aspect of what size the samples are made in, if your samples are in a size six or eight, then you need a model that size to fit them. And a size, any size, does not equal healthy. I too was heartened to see Alex Perry apologise, but for what? Choosing a size six model who looked less healthy than the other size six models due to her body type! Or for making samples for the runway in that size to begin with?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Too right – a size does not equate to health. I would like to see a variety of sample sizes on a variety of models. Got to dream!

  • Louise

    great post Nikki. I agree with your point of view. I’m tired of an industry that tries to dictate how people should look. In rebellion I rarely buy fashion mags or engage with other media apart from blogs like yours.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Good rebel work Louise!

  • Jo

    I was one of those underweight,scary thin models some 25 years ago and I have to say I would NEVER want my daughter (I have 3 boys) to tread the road I travelled as a model it was a very eerie track along an even darker road. I am told 1 in 3 teenage girls has either an eating disorder or anxiety issue and I have to say its not surprising. Our teens have enough to contend with without trying to emulate the so called ‘model fit’ it worries me senseless what young girls will do to achieve this look and its unhealthy, unflattering and plan stupid!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh Jo … and 25 years ago the industry “norm” was not what it is today.

  • Mezza

    Why stop with the model in focus… If you ask me, there is little difference between her and the chick going in the opposite direction… Neither look fit or strong…but imagine the existence where how you look has so much focus. No thanks.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      The model photographed is as I’ve said a scapegoat in all this. It’s a way bigger problem than just one girl and one photo.

  • Annie

    Exactly!

  • http://Fabricepiphanies.blogspot.com/ Andrea

    I find that picture confronting at least and shocking. I really don’t think that model is doing that dress any favours. It is a really pretty dress that could look lovely.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think the dress could look amazing on the right shape Andrea.

  • Blondieaus

    I love that you care! It comes through in everything you do & say on this blog that you think of other women as sisters, daughters, mothers… not as competitors, strangers or objects. We can each make a difference every day when we give this honour and respect to those we mix with and those we talk about. What amazing influence you have!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      We can each make a difference – and it starts with caring and honouring all women. Glad you’ve noticed that around here. x

  • http://www.myyellowheart.blogspot.com.au/ Carla @ My Yellow Heart

    I am frustrated by the use of underweight models. It’s just not realistic in anyway. The majority of women are not that small, and in a lot of cases clothes made to fit this size woman would rarely look good on my size 10-12 frame. Surely a talented designer could make clothes that are both artistic, beautiful and fit women who aren’t this size and still be flattering on them. I don’t begrudge this model, she’s doing what she needs to do to get work, but I wouldn’t like to see my daughters working in this industry if this ideal is what is expected of them x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I don’t begrudge the model either Carla – it’s unfortunate that she’s this year’s scapegoat for a problem that’s bigger than one person.

  • chile_chicken

    It is always hard for me to comment on discussions like these, but I want to put this out there- being called too skinny and unhealthy looking can be just as hurtful as any other type of name calling. I am a size 8 and have comments within my own family that I have “no boobs or beauty”, which makes me feel awful. Size isn’t everything and for people to claim (not on this discussion but on other pages) that she is not a real women makes me feel like I must not be worth anything. We need to accept all shapes and sizes- trying to be a weight or body shape that we are not is harmful and can lead to major issues. I think that Cassi definitely felt the pressure to be thin even though she was naturally thin anyway during her Top Model season, and it is a shame that this attention will probably do more harm than good.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Here at SY we believe all women are real – and I’ve worked with naturally petite women – size 4 and 6 who find it just as difficult to dress confidently as a size 16. I’m all for diversity in fashion marketing – age and size – then and only then will we be working to some sort of body acceptance. Cassi would have felt the pressure to be thin to get work – there is no doubt about that.

  • merilyn

    btw meant to say, I’m a bit impressed with peter Morrissey these days, as he has joined big w in offering seemingly good quality clothing at a very reasonable price and the sizing is 8-16 … I think his white jeans are really good! ofcourse the issue there is where they are being made? … well where is anything being made one would have to ask! anyhoo cheers m:)X

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Absolutely Merilyn, that’s the other major issue within the industry from a global perspective.

  • Sophisticated Mumma

    I feel the media has a lot to answer for too. It seems to fuel all the trend of looking stick thin. Everyday we see people supposedly snap into shape after giving birth, it’s such an unhealthy attitude. Having said that some people are just naturally thin. My daughter eats like a horse although she’s very very slim. She would love to be heavier however it’s just not in her genes and maybe it will come with age. The model in question does look painfully thin and I hope the fashion industry take note but I feel this will crop up again next year. I applaude those who feature different size models in their collection advertising, bigger and smaller. After all for there to be an average there has to be people above and below the point that is considered the norm.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Yes, there is a wider expectation that being stick thin is what we should all aspire to. That mentality needs to change to a health focus – not a size focus.

  • http://satisfactionbroughtitback.blogspot.com.au/ Anne-Marie Cox

    I think Alex Perry spoke VERY well about this issue on both those stupid morning shows that I detest… he owned it… he agreed he screwed up and took his eye off the ball when he cast her… but he also added the onus needs to be placed on the agents to be fulfilling their duty of care to these girls… and basically that the entire industry needs to take a good hard look at itself… They debate it for a “hot minute” every year and then never actually do anything… I actually feel for this particular girl who, as the article suggests, get to be the poster/pin-up girl on the issue this year… The US and then European fashion circuit calls on the girls to be thinner and then they return for Australian Fashion Week after a month or so away and so obviously they are going to be thinner because apparently that’s what the market demands… I just don’t get it… what “market” are they referring too? Seeing as we are fast becoming one of the most obese countries how do they ever actually sell anything?????

    At the VERY end of the day though I think as a mother it is MY duty of care to MY daughters that matters most… is it easy? NO, it’s bloody hard… our kids are bombarded with so much shit in marketing and media from infant hood and it is really difficult to say no and to teach your kids to think analytically and critically… but we simply MUST do it… we must teach them to THINK for themselves and be aware of health and decent nutrition (not to mention all the other advertising for pointless and unnecessary consumer goods)… the sake of our children’s lives depends on it.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      The market they refer to is the market of fashion magazines – these magazines control the editorial power and can make and break labels. It’s never the consumer of the actual garments. And I agree with you – teaching our kids to think for themselves on all counts is our number one job.

  • http://www.hippiemumma.com/ Jackie @ Hippie Mumma

    Oh she looks so unhealthy and sad :( Least Alex can own up to his mistake, that’s a good man. Or he just wants to look good!

    Industry only event? I thought I heard the news say for the first time it’s open to the public? I’m probably wrong, I’ve got a cold!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      There are fashion festivals in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and these are consumer events – what you see on the runway at these events is available there and then in store. MBFWA is the industry event – just like those in New York, London, Paris etc.

  • Leah Hall

    I’d just like to point out that you don’t need to appear to be “mere skin and bones” to be a size 6-8. Models can still be a 6-8 but fill out the clothing, but it really depends on each individuals body shape and natural structure. I’m a thirty something woman and have been a size 6-8 since I could fit in adult clothing. Nevertheless, I’ve been up to a 8DD/10D bra without being pregnant while pregnancies sent to up to a 10F. I’m petite, small but still curvy. I’ve got boobs, a bum and thighs. I don’t always fit into a size 6-8 but sometimes the next size up doesn’t work either. It depends on the style and cut. I think that my point is that Women come in different shapes and sizes and while 6-8 is healthy for my petite but curvy frame, it might not be for someone else. While women of the public feel they are are need to conform the model sizing, models are conforming to sizes that don’t fit their frame. Is it possible that for someone like Cassi she needs to be extremely slim to fit into a 6-8 as prescribed by the industry, when to have a healthy slim appearance she would more naturally be a 10? How many designers are men and how many are women? I understand practically multiple sizes from one designer would be difficult, but I think it is possible to cater designs to better suit bodies better. Not all designers are so tiny either so why aren’t they designing clothing they can actually wear?

  • Silvia Borges

    Great article Nikki! I not only live to hope change will happen, I strongly believe it will as it up to us consumers to speak up out and loud! Social media has given us that voice, we need to have the conversation!

  • Janelle@awhitefarm

    Healthy, fit and strong women are the most beautiful and this is what I am trying to raise my two girls to believe and strive for too…this picture just scares the heck out of me.

  • Melissa

    Congratulations Nikki for standing up for those whose size makes it tricky for them to wear anything that isn’t on sale in the chain stores.
    I have to say that we appreciate that by using your publicity – you’re not only encouraging more sales, you’re showing us that we don’t have to be size 6 to be stylish.
    Thanks again

  • PrincessEatsPeaSoup

    I am well into wearing only plus size clothes and I pay no attention at all to designs and designers that don’t make clothes in my sizes. But I feel like I have read plenty of stories by models after they have stopped working, who were under huge pressure to diet and starve themselves while they were working. And it made them miserable. I also appreciate that is not always the case. But these models are young, they are impressionable and trying to work and be successful at it. I can’t think of a worse torture than pressuring yourself to not eat. And I think there must also be some pressure if you are that thin, to prove that you are eating at a healthy rate. I didn’t look after myself that well when I was young, so I have a lot of empathy for these young girls who are possibly struggling. I am personally more concerned that girls struggling with eating issues are offered help, rather than the issue of models sizes.

  • Kelly

    I agree and want to add my 2 cents. Firstly though I want to say let’s be careful what we say about the model – she is a real human being too. I am sure saying she is “sick/unhealthy/too skinny” is as hurtful as saying someone is too fat. At the end of the day, if designers want to sell their fashions to the greater public – a variety of shapes, heights and sizes is going to give their clothing greater appeal. Though some designers don’t want to do that – they want the exclusivity of their designs only fitting a select few. And that is their choice. As it is our choice to support ie buy from designers who have this variety. More than anything the government or industry body can do, this is what will change the industry. Thanks Nikki for starting this conversation.

    • http://www.igiveyoutheverbs.com Annette @ IGiveYouTheVerbs

      Agree Kelly – this isn’t an invitation to bash this girl. We need to watch out words. I know I do!

  • http://www.igiveyoutheverbs.com Annette @ IGiveYouTheVerbs

    Nikki, great post. Needs discussing, over and over again.
    The “real” thing bothers me a lot – I am real, you are, Cassi is too.
    I have been working on checking myself when tempted to comment, usually negatively or “helpfully”, on someone else’s appearance – it’s hard!
    It’s hard because criticism is so easy, I don’t like your dress, too much make-up, not enough, too thin, too fat, you’ve looked better (which I’ve seen about things you’ve rocked your #everydaystyle posts – so rude!). It goes beyond commentary and messes with our sense of boundaries and civility.
    And sadly, even in on plus size social media, the size 12/14 models get hammered because even they are too thin! There’s no pleasing some people.
    For those with daughters, sincerely, good luck. What a position of influence you have over the coming generations. Teach them to love themselves and be kind. To reject the very narrow parameters of societal beauty. To be strong and happy in their skins.

    Thank you for continuing to be a fashion-loving voice of reason Nikki.

  • Annie @eclecticallyblack

    Like many others I was shocked when I saw the photo of this underweight model. Images of extremely thin models do nothing to entice me to go out and buy the fashion that designer is trying to sell me.
    It is about time more designers and fashion houses made their samples in various sizes, really, how hard can the be to achieve?
    When my daughter worked as a freelance fashion stylist for photographic shoots my eyes were somewhat opened to the goings on behind the scenes. The fashion world is exciting but there’s another layer of dog eat dog competitiveness. Of course my observations are anecdotal but models I came into contact with (I helped my girl on several shoots) didn’t appear very happy and I can only wonder if the pressure to be the next ‘top model’ is an overbearing weight for some of these girls. Certainly some designers booking rake thin girls/women don’t help the situation.
    I asked my daughter why models don’t smile or display some inkling of their personality and it’s the reason others have mentioned, they are a walking coat hanger and we the public are meant to only notice the fashion. Call me an old dinosaur but a pleasant expression will entice me to embrace the package.
    As for Alex Perry I think he knew exactly what he was doing booking this model. What’s the saying ‘any publicity is good publicity’ but with the backlash he’s receiving he’s done a backflip and pleading innocence.
    As for the thin debate, I am a thin girl due to bone structure, genetics and health issues so when I see images of waif like models even I find the trend incredibly disturbing.
    Annie

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Great post Nikki ,I agree with you on showing a garment in two different models I makes sense to the consumer and I think they would sell more clothes that way,I also think maybe an older model would work as well as women in their 30s40s and 50s and beyond have the knowledge to buy something that is an investment piece more so than a young girl.
    I do think Cassie sends the wrong message to young women you don’t have to be super skinny to look good she doesn’t look healthy maybe she is naturally skinny as some young girls and women are BUT what about a bigger girl that feels like she is fat.
    We are all different shapes and sizes and that is why your model and me posts work so well,maybe they should be more mindful of how they display their clothing,this is a big topic that needs addressing!I applaud the designers who do use more realistic models.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      The age is a big factor too – just because we’re over 30 doesn’t mean we’re not interested in how we choose to dress each day!

  • Petra

    Thanks for explaining it all Nikki. I would much rather see size 12-14 (or more) models than size 6-8 (or less). I really hate skin and bone – it’s ugly and looks incredibly painful and unhealthy. It would be great if Australia (and New Zealand) was the country to make these momentous changes and direct the rest of the fashion world into a new cycle of fashion. The Aussie designers could do it, if they actually wanted to.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      They could do it if they wanted to Petra. I don’t think they do want to. Sadly.

  • Lyn

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said showing the clothes on a bigger size gives women a visual clue more appropriate for them and therefore sells clothes. This is certainly true for me. One of my favourite dresses is a white Country Road dress I had completely overlooked as not for me when I saw it online, and then I saw you in it and realised that, actually, it was very me indeed!
    I blame the designers. I don’t think they want to see women above a certain size wearing their clothes full stop. The classic example of this is a certain gym wear brand that cuts it’s clothes so small even the size large can only be worn by someone already in shape. Most designers are pretentious snobs frankly.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I agree – I’m pretty sure they don’t want to see people of a certain weight and age wearing their clothes!

  • Reannon Hope

    I watched Alex Perry discuss this yesterday & I didn’t buy it. He said he was distracted & had a lot going on , which is probably true, but don’t tell me you don’t scrutinize the models wearing your clothes! But on the other hand if the uproar makes him change then I guess it’s a good thing….

    The fashion industry needs to wake up & understand that the majority of their buyers are not model thin & that we’d love to see more realistic looking woman wearing their clothes. Yes models look lovely sashaying down the catwalk but so would a woman of a different size & shape! I think shape has a lot more to do with it than weight. Us woman are soft & curvy as well as firm & straight up & down. It doesn’t have to be one or the other!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Shape is definitely the key – not weight.

  • Pauline Clayton

    A survey on how many adult women wear size six to eight, might just make the industry acknowledge 12 to 14 is the average.
    Clothes look dreadful on a woman who clearly is starving.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think the survey would be ignored Pauline!

  • Sarah

    As a size 10-12 model in my 20s, I was the lucky girl in the parades who got to wear the Maggie Tabberer clothes. On the plus side, I also got to wear the bridal dresses because I had a bust to fill out the bodices!

    Cassie is naturally skinny. A couple of kilos lost on a frame like hers tips her over to looking unhealthy pretty quickly and easily. Also agree with an earlier comment about the term ‘real’ women being divisive. We’re all ‘real’ regardless of size. It would be nice to see a wider variety of shapes in fashion, although to be honest – I think we’re getting there, albeit slowly.

    Great post.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      We are so all real and it’s something that I’ve long championed here on SY Sarah!

  • Cilla

    I don’t buy Alex Perry’s excuse. He saw her, he put her up there. Some of the big international designers prefer women who resemble coat hangers.
    I agree that the call re whether somebody is healthy or not should be made by a health professional, but at weight extremes it’s easy to see.
    Can we have a style week? (As opposed to fashion week)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      A Style Week – now that’s an amazing idea! The model size thing is a global issue. To get runway jobs in the likes of Paris, this is the size they’re looking for. Crazy.

    • SharonT

      Great idea Cilia! How about a Styling You week! Real, fit, curvy, not-curvy women parading the latest fashions. I’ll come to that!!!

  • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

    As a woman whose body shape is more like the average Australian woman, I hardly ever get to see myself represented in fashion media. Even when I was a size 8, a lot of the clothes just didn’t suit my lifestyle or budget. I’m pleased to see that there are lot more plus sized fashion models showcasing styles and designs and brands. But for someone like me, who isn’t plus sized but isn’t model sized, I almost never get to see my body type represented.

    Cassie has always been tiny but I do think she looks even tinier here than usual.

    I don’t like the term “real body” or “real woman”. I think it is divisive and almost denigrating to women who naturally are thin. I don’t like the term “curvy” to describe plus size body types. You can be curvy at a size 6 or a size 16.

    I think this is why not only your Model and Me posts, but also the Everyday Style selfie phenemonon, are so valuable. Everyday women can see what other everyday women look like and how they style themselves and present themselves and what makes them feel good about themselves.

    It’s a movement I’m proud to be a part of. xxx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I’m so proud you’re a part of it too Kim-Marie! Diversity in fashion is the key to helping others find the confidence to unlock their own style. All women are real and hear us roar!

    • http://soniastyling.com/ Sonia from Sonia Styling

      I could not have worded it better, Kim-Marie. Totally agree with every single point you’ve made. I’m not model size or plus size either and I’ve had to fumble and find my way through fashion to figure out what does work for me. That’s why I feel honoured and privileged to have my blog as a little platform to share what’s out there for “people like me”. You’re doing a brilliant job, Nikki – keep on keeping on. x

  • dramaqueen

    I don’t have a big issue with designers working with size 6-8 patterns and templates for their designs. This is the “look” we have all become accustomed too. However apart from this high end, fashion as “silly art” end of the spectrum which will, in truth, only be worn by a few rich fashion tragics, the rest of us want stylish clothes that fit well.
    If something has been designed with a size 6 or 8 in mind it is rarely going to translate well to a size 12 let alone a 14 or 16.
    I do have a massive issue with designers who have designed for an 6 or 8 but then send emancipated waifs down the catwalk. The tiny clothes look ridiculous on them too!
    Imagine that white lace mini dress on someone with good legs with a bit of muscle and condition? A regular size 8 with a nice bust. It would look soooo much better

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Agreed – it would look amazing and I’m sure we’ll see a celebrity wearing it very soon.

  • Linda

    I love your model and me posts each week Nikki because you have a real body. What a shame people who manufacture clothes don’t realise we have curves and most Aussie girls are 14+. While watching the news yesterday with my husband he asked why they chose stick figured to walk down the run way. Why indeed? Thanks for your story and maybe Australia can lead the way with designers like Sasha Drake.

  • merilyn

    opened a can of worms here nikki! good on you … this is a huge debate!
    i’ll be frank, I see it as a fantasy world really, it’s not meant to be real. nothing real about a 6 or 8 for the majority! to me, it’s all about the ‘show’ and getting noticed! well alex perry has done that, he’s on every ones lips now! … [that will boost his sales] it’s BIG business! … it’s certainly hype!
    as for the model in the spotlight, it won’t hurt her career either. she’s just doing her job and getting paid nicely for it too … good for her! she even may be that skinny naturally, who knows … we are all guessing here!
    models since the twiggy days in the 60′s …(in my day) seem to be walking coat hangers … nothing attractive about that to my mind! it is not helpful to anyone to have these seriously skinny models … but that’s the industry … i’ll call it B/S
    not many of us are as skinny as rakes and it’s geared to a market which is unattainable to most as well … that’s why I like your ‘model and me’ you are being real in the real world and you’re not putting on a pantomime!
    thanks nikki … I’m being a synic today m:)X

  • chrisatpb

    I have noticed more online retailers offering “real life” size models – great to see. My son’s girlfriend is a model – since she turned 17 and started to get her curves (she is still a tiny size 8) she is getting less work. Her peak runway and magazine jobs occurred from 12-16 years old. Fortunately she has other job options and is not silly enough to starve herself to satisfy her agency!

  • Lauren Walker

    Great blog Nikki, I own a fashion Boutique in Ascot, Brisbane (Joli Boutique) and specialise in German fashion for a more mature customer 35years + I love German fashion because all there sample sizes are 10′s and they design for a real woman!! I cant stand Australian Fashion week, the fashion is not wearable and is not designed for a real australian woman!

  • Cheekie

    Bravo

  • http://www.thatsummerfeeling.com Michelle

    The day that I was blessed to experience a styling session with you Nikki, was a game changer for me. You helped me to see things from a more realistic perspective and try things I thought I was too old/big to pull off because I was a size 16, 43 year old at the time.That day I stopped buying into the fashion industry marketing machine. everyday style posts and model and me Mondays give me more of an idea of what something looks like in the real world than any fashion magazine could. As an advocate for change, you are making a difference with your work. I find I gravitate more towards online retailers now such as Birdsnest. Keep up the great work Nikki.

  • BabyMacBlogBeth

    Great post Nikkers. I don’t understand why the industry only thinks that their clothes work on thing women in their 20′s. WE are the real people that actually buy their clothes. Women in their min thirties up, who have had kids. You don’t look perfect but can look OK given the opportunity. You do an amazing job showcasing what is out there to us (the people with the money) in a REALISTIC why. I don’t get why there isn’t more attention given to you..or us. Why aren’t YOU at fashion week?

  • Nellie

    I just couldn’t agree more Nikki. I often chat to my girlfriends about this. At forty we can now afford higher end (ish) labels, but must endure them being advertised on 14 year old girls. It’s not only disrespectful to the customers who keep their business wheels turning, it’s nonsensical given the reality that most women DON’T look like that. I have three daughters so its on my mind. I really hope there is some positive action out of all this reaction. Thank you for weighing in.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It is disrespectful and nonsensical Nellie – I’ll continue to not only weigh in but promote fashion in a way that is aimed at helping women find confidence through what they wear.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It is disrespectful and nonsensical Nellie – I’ll continue to not only weigh in but promote fashion in a way that is aimed at helping women find confidence through what they wear.

  • Angela

    Great post. I just can’t understand why more fashion designers aren’t using ‘ real’ sized models. These size 6 skinny models are not vaguely representative of the population. I have 2 teenage daughters who think that is what you are meant to look like. They are at an all girls school. With the exception of a small handful , none of the girls look like those super skinny models – they are not representative of the population. I also see an irony in the marketing of clothing by tiny models, but the reality In the shops is the super sizing of sizes – to make me think I can fit size 8 or 10 when reality is I am a 12! I’m not fooled!!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      All women are real Angela – I’m all about diversity. Show us models across a range of sizes and show us models who are athletic and strong.

  • http://www.maxabellaloves.blogspot.com/ Maxabella

    Well done, Nikki – this is such a great post. Alex and Jackie and their like are all talk, talk, talk and always have been. They ALWAYS talk about how they shouldn’t do this and shouldn’t do that, but that dress up there fits Cassi perfectly so someone clearly cut it for a child to wear… not that Cassi’s weight is any of my business, frankly, but she is employed up there FOR her size and that interests me greatly. x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      The talk is always there – the doing should happen. I’ll keep on playing my small part in the (vain) hope that the big players will eventually act.

      • http://www.maxabellaloves.blogspot.com/ Maxabella

        I think you make a difference, Nikki, I really, really do. x

  • http://irismaystyle.com/ Bev | Iris May Style

    Fabulous thought provoking post Nikki. This conversation needs to keep happening in order for the ripple effect to take place. Ultimately I believe the big guns will have to come on board by offering an alternative, but this process will be a slow one. Sacha Drake’s approach would solve this issue – it’s the perfect solution. On a personal level, I always prefer to view clothes on real women. Women that we all relate to on a daily basis. Keep up the good work because this topic needs a strong ambassador that is not afraid to speak on behalf of the masses. xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Agree the conversation needs to keep happening. #everydaystyle which you join in with and what you do on your blog helps. Just because we’re a certain age or shape doesn’t mean we don’t want to wear clothes that make us feel great.

  • http://www.shoppegirlsstyling.com/ Vicki | ShoppeGirls Styling

    I agree also and the GP is the only judge that can really make the correct judgement. Some people are naturally thin. I totally agree that fashion pieces should be as diverse as the consumers. Love your model and me pieces and keep up your fabulous work Nikki x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Diversity is key – all women are real. Show us how that works with different sized models wearing the same clothes!

  • Sonya

    I certainly don’t feel that the ‘fashion industry’ sees or caters directly to me at all so instead I rely on blogs such as yours, which is realistic but also very inspiring. Styling You has made a difference in my life by introducing me to brands such as Sasha Drake (which I love) and which I probably would never have found otherwise. The young, thin girls on the catwalk represent an unrealistic ideal and set a precedence which is almost impossible to achieve plus they are a million miles away from my reality, but it’s great to know I can still look and feel great when I go out. I’ve just had a couple of days at a corporate conference and felt really well dressed and confident after following your advice, so THANK YOU!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh thanks Sonya, that means a lot. I’m one person trying to bring a ripple of change through an industry that’s long stopped marketing to me – even though I still love to wear nice clothes!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh thanks Sonya, that means a lot. I’m one person trying to bring a ripple of change through an industry that’s long stopped marketing to me – even though I still love to wear nice clothes!

  • Kathryn

    Those too thin models worry me. For one, the pressure they must be under to be so underweight. I know some people are naturally thin, but some of these girls look unwell, and there’s a difference. I don’t look at what is being worn down the runway usually, very occasionally I will see a dress that I like but mostly I just can’t imagine myself in them because of the body shape difference. And that, has been when I have weighed 53kg myself and not overweight (even though I am short). Now days being heavier, I really cannot imagine wearing the same as these girls. I read a while back that some models eat tissues so their tummy feels full. What kind of society or industry thinks that is okay? I feel really uncomfortable about it all, we were all talking about it at work yesterday, one of my workmates has an 18yo who has battled anorexia, so she is watchful of these girls.Reading Alex Perry’s comments, made me think of the saying ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Where do we start?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      And that is where the real tragedy lies Kathryn … when these unrealistic body shapes are held up as aspirational. My heart goes out to your workmate’s daughter.

  • Lexi

    Nikki, I now go to blogs for fashion inspiration. I’ve got to the point that I find the over styled and posed looks of ridiculously skinny teenage models in magazines to look absurd. I just feel like magazines and runway seem to be out of sync with street style now.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      They are out of sync Lexi because they’re mostly caught up in the crazy and vicious circle of it all.

  • Morgan Cranch

    I agree with the point you made earlier in the piece, a GP is the best judgement on whether a certain person is healthy or not. I feel sorry for some, not all, models who are naturally that build, because there are women out there, who are a size 6 or 8. But I wholeheartedly agree that I would like to see different sizes up there on the catwalk, because I’m surrounded by healthy women in my life, who are everything from a size 8 to a size 16. Here is to more power to the consumer.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      More power to the consumer in the hope they recognise that the customer comes in all sizes!

  • fauxfuschia

    I really like your model and me posts too. It’s a complex issue, but every person I know would like to lose weight, and I’ve read that people would rather slim down than earn more $$$$!!!! The pressure! Under weight models do not want me buy clothes.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      So much pressure and I think way too much on young girls who need to be focussed on good health.

  • Amy Zempilas

    Brilliant post Nikki, I’m so glad you have written about it. Images of seriously skinny and underweight women like this really frighten me as a mother of two very little girls. I know first hand that even I feel pressure to be a certain way and I love that you put a healthy and realistic ‘Model and Me’ look out there on a daily basis. Thanks for being such a wonderful role model in so many ways. Amy x x x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Amy – it’s why I love #everydaystyle too – diversity in fashion is so important for confidence.