Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quintessentially Models

The modeling industry hasn't been in the news for awhile, but then again no one has died either. Sorry bad choice of words but is true. Next month is London's Fashion Week which always brings about a buzz. However, one modeling agency, Quintessentially Models, is not making a buzz so much about the models, but the fact that the British Fashion Council (BFC) has decided to disregard the compulsory health checks for models. Last year, the BFC came up with 14 recommendations under the Model Health Inquiry as a safeguard for the health of models. However, they felt that the compulsory health checks which ensured that models were free of eating disorders and healthy enough to work, were "unworkable" and "counter-productive." One model, Erin O'Connor, felt that the checks "infringed a model's dignity and rights."

According to Eleni Renton, the founder of Quintessentially Models, an "ethical" modeling agency, she feels that the decision of the BFC is poor and weak and that public funding for the show should be pulled. She feels that it is only promoting unhealthy ideals. Her take on Miss O'Connor's comments is that it is nonsense, that compulsory health checks are easily doable. She feels that the industry will never change without having guidelines and enforcing them and having designers create clothing that is simply not just reserved for skinny models. Also, another point made by a model is that if agents stopped sending out thin models, then designers would be forced to use healthy sizes.

So the model debate continues. I do applaud Renton's efforts for establishing a different kind of modeling agency. Her agency only employs models who are in the healthy BMI range and if individuals are getting too thin, then weight gain is encouraged. There is also an in-house counselor for models to talk to, as well as nutritional health checks. Her models have landed campaigns with Nivea, Lancome, Vogue, and Marie Claire.

Although Renton is not in the norm for a modeling agency, maybe others will follow in her lead. As I said before, change never happens without an uproar, and it has to be within the industry itself. But small changes can make a difference and prove to others that there are more options out there.


kb said...


While I appreciate the issue of dieting in the modeling industry and the pressure that this industry puts on women (not only those who model, but those in society at large), I also think about all of the women with whom I work who are driven and high-pressured and have (or had or have had) eating issues (either full-blown eating disorders or something that is remarkably like one), and it makes me sad and angry that there is no debate there because it is not a glamorized industry in which these people work.
Perhaps this makes no sense or is off-topic, but I wonder about the idea of "health checks" at all workplaces.
- Kristina

brie said...

I'm definitely an advocate for the "healthy model" movement. I used to model, and while my agency always "encouraged" us to be healthy, they never asked us questions of how we lost our weight. It was more like a "don't ask, don't tell" type situation. This is long overdue, and I hope it snowballs.

Tiptoe said...

Kb, you raise a good point. You're right that there should be more articles and info. out there about women in everyday workplaces who feel the same societal pressures as models alike.

Though I think health checks are a good idea for workplaces, I think it would be incredibly difficult to enforce for a job where "looks" were not the sole purpose. I think so many then would yell breach of privacy. It's unfortunate, but I don't know how to get it to change.

Brie, I'm really glad you were not in a model agency that stressed weight loss. I think so much whether it's modeling or not, there is a "don't ask, don't tell" type policy. I agree with you that I hope this will be a good initiative for other agencies to incorporate healthy ideals.