Rosalie Grace Nelson’s career in the fashion industry started by chance. Or better, fate. When she was still in Australia, she accompanied a friend to an audition for a modeling competition and the judges spotted Nelson instead. So, she started modeling, back in 2012, when she was 20.
She was thin (like the industry dictates), but she was also active and healthy. Nelson was a young woman fresh out of school who quickly learned that the fashion industry was looking for a fresh appearance, a fit and sporty physique. At least, in Australia.
The requirements and standards to work as a model changed when she moved to London in 2014. For the European and American fashion industry, Nelson wasn’t thin enough; she wasn’t ultra thin.
“In London the typical model is very very thin, with specific measurements of no bigger than 34” bust, 26” waist and 35” hips. When I did not reach these requirements I was asked to change my body,” Nelson said.
The Model Alliance is a non-profit organization was created by models like Nelson, women who said “enough” to unrealistic beauty standards in the fashion industry. Part of the organization’s vision is to give voice to the workers of the industry.
“As the faces of the fashion industry, models are in a unique and powerful position to inject a new labor consciousness into fashion—one that encourages fair treatment, equal opportunity, and more sustainable practices in this highly influential, global industry,” the Model Alliance states.
Nelson found her voice after years of grueling diets and excessive exercise, all aimed at getting the measurement of her hips down from 38” to 35”. One model agency in London told Nelson to “get down to the bone.”
“I was 22 at the time, and luckily I knew better than to force myself any further. But I really felt bad for the hundreds, potentially thousands, of other young people starting in the industry who would have tried to lose more weight,” said Nelson.
A lot of the model’s friends went through the same troubles. Their agents told them to lose weight if they wanted to book more jobs. Some of them had to quit because they had put on a few extra pounds. The Australian model couldn’t find a good reason for the ultra thin requirements. Was it to cut the cost of fabric? Or maybe because models on a grueling diet are more malleable? Or was it because it is easier to have a “standard” size to work with?
“There is no feasible reason I can think of that would require models to be so thin, especially at the risk of their health,” Nelson said.
Instead of giving in to the fashion industry’s requests, Nelson fought back. She started a petition on the website Change to create a law that protects models from the pressure of losing weight. With her petition, the young model wanted to raise awareness. The modeling world is not as stylish and glamorous as the public thinks.
“The majority of us, we are critiqued and ridiculed to our faces and we’re often left wondering why we’re putting ourselves through such torment with dieting and excessive exercise, only to be told we aren’t good enough,” Nelson said.
With her petition, the Australian model wants to make the modeling and fashion industry safe and comfortable for everyone, no matter the size. During one of her photo sessions, Nelson worked for up to 10 hours without food. The idea being that she shouldn’t have eaten.
The support she didn’t receive during her career, Nelson received it when she raised her voice. People outside the industry were shocked to learn what models had to go through. People inside the industry thanked Nelson for speaking out and they expressed the same concern for their life.
Changes to the industry have already started. The fashion industry is starting to become more inclusive to reflect people’s shapes and bodies. The changes have applied to models too, that now are accepted for who and what they represent. Still, the industry has a long way to go.
“Models are humans too, we deserve fair rights and a fair chance to embrace our natural bodies without speculation or criticism. We should be able to be proud and comfortable in our bodies,” Nelson said.
Models look healthier and happier when they’re enjoying eating, a reasonable diet, and exercising. All in moderation and with fun, because Nelson believes that modeling can be an incredibly rewarding job, without all the demands and damaging requirements.
To support Rosalie Grace Nelson and her fight for a better fashion industry, sing her petition on Change HERE.