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“I will no longer allow you to dictate what's wrong with my looks”: Model writes powerful open letter to fashion industry

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A British model has written an open letter addressing the body image problems within the fashion industry, after a modelling agency insisted she lose weight to get work.

Despite being a UK size six and having modelled for brands such as Rodial, Ciaté, Harper’s Bazaar and fashion photographer Rankin, Charlie Howard says she was repeatedly asked by her agency to slim down.

Though she has decided not to name the agency in question, Howard has revealed the pressure she was put under to shave inches off her figure.

In a Facebook post shared earlier this week, the model writes: “Here's a big FUCK YOU to my (now ex) model agency, for saying that at 5"8 tall and a UK size 6-8 (naturally), I'm ‘too big’ and ‘out of shape’ to work in the fashion industry.

 

Here's a big FUCK YOU to my (now ex) model agency, for saying that at 5"8 tall and a UK size 6-8 (naturally), I'm "too...

Posted by Charli Howard on Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The letter continues: “I will no longer allow you to dictate to me what's wrong with my looks and what I need to change in order to be ‘beautiful’ (like losing one fucking inch off my hips), in the hope it might force you to find me work.

“I refuse to feel ashamed and upset on a daily basis for not meeting your ridiculous, unobtainable beauty standards, whilst you sit at a desk all day, shovelling cakes and biscuits down your throats and slagging me and my friends off about our appearance. 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. It's no longer an image I choose to represent.

“In case you hadn't realised, 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'. I have fought nature for a long time, because you've deemed my body shape too ‘curvaceous’, but I have recently begun to love my shape. I don't have big boobs, but my bum is ok *smile emoticon* plus, a large majority of my clients are ok with this.

“And anyway, let's face the facts: when I was 7 and a half stone, I still wasn't thin enough for you. When I went to the gym 5 hours a week, you still weren't finding me work. I can't win.

“Ironically, I do love modelling - the people I've met, the places I've visited and I am proud of the jobs I've done. I will continue to do it, but only on my terms. My mental and physical health is of more importance than a number on a scale, however much you wish to emphasise this.

“Until (and if) an agency wishes to represent me for myself, my body and the WOMAN I've become, give me a call. Until then, I'm off to Nandos.”

WEDDING

Posted by Charli Howard on Monday, 13 July 2015

Howard’s letter echoes comments made recently by both Ashley Graham, who campaigns for more curvy models to be given top industry jobs, and Cara Delevingne, who has blasted modelling for making her anxious about her body and deeply unhappy.

Even Gigi Hadid, who is currently enjoying the limelight of being the model of the moment, has addressed fashion's culture of body shaming in her own open letter.

Of the overwhelming support her post has now garnered, Howard says: “I have been contacted by women (and men) from around the world, signalling to me that this is a global problem. Fashion affects everyone in a modern society and young people from all cultures.

Talking to Huffington Post, she continues: “Models, young women, mothers, agencies, photographers and the press have all written to me about the pressures of the fashion industry and how it has made them or their friends' feel. Being you, or the best version of you, is not enough for the majority of agencies. The response I've received is merely a sign that the industry needs to change.

“Agencies ultimately hold the power when it comes to choosing the models they represent, and will often choose measurements over beauty. Measurements should not, and DO NOT, define someone's beauty.”

Top image: Charli Howard/Facebook

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