Sunday, February 21, 2010

Coco Urges the Industry to Change

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts (See the Best of the Zeros According to Meggasus) Coco Rocha is my favorite model of all time. Her editorials are always so expressive...full of energy and spirit. She's been on top for awhile now, and two years ago she spoke out at the CFDA conference about the pressures that she and other models are put under to stay thin...stating that her agency once told her "the look this year is anorexia...we don't want you to be anorexic but that's just what we want you to look like."

Recently, there has been more discussion about Coco's current figure and that her demand in the industry has decreased. On February 18th, Coco released this statement on her blog speaking up for herself and urging the industry to change once and for all. Here is her full statement below:

There has been quite the commotion over the recent articles about me in the New York Times and The New York Daily News. As only a few select statements of mine were printed I find it necessary to properly express my point of view, without outside editing.

I’m a 21 year old model, 6 inches taller and 10 sizes smaller than the average American woman. Yet in another parallel universe I’m considered “fat”… This was the subject of major discussion this week and the story that was spun was: “Coco Rocha is too fat for the runway”.

Is that the case? No. I am still used and in demand as a model. In fact I find myself busier than ever. In the past few years I have not gained an extreme amount of weight, only an inch here and there as any young woman coming out of her teenage years would.

But this issue of model’s weight is, and always has been, of concern to me. There are certain moral decisions which seem like no brainers to us. For example, not employing children in sweatshops, and not increasing the addictiveness of cigarettes. When designers, stylists or agents push children to take measures that lead to anorexia or other health problems in order to remain in the business, they are asking the public to ignore their moral conscience in favor of the art.

Surely, we all see how morally wrong it is for an adult to convince an already thin 15 year old that she is actually too fat. It is unforgivable that an adult should demand that the girl unnaturally lose the weight vital to keep her body functioning properly. How can any person justify an aesthetic that reduces a woman or child to an emaciated skeleton? Is it art? Surely fashion’s aesthetic should enhance and beautify the human form, not destroy it.

There is division in the industry in this regard. Although there are those who don’t consider a model’s wellbeing, I have had the honor and privilege to work with some of the greatest designers, editors, stylists and agents who respect both new and well established models alike. I know there are many others out there who I haven’t worked with who also agree with me on the stance on this issue.

The CFDA has tried so very hard to correct these matters. As of a few days ago at their annual meeting they found everyone in the room in agreement on changing the sample size as well as booking models over the age of 16. It’s great to see how many people’s hearts are in the right place because we must make these changes for the next generation of girls.

As a grown woman I can make decisions for myself. I can decide that I won’t allow myself to be degraded at a casting - marching in my underwear with a group of young girls, poked, prodded and examined like cattle. I’m able to walk away from that treatment because I am established as a model and I’m an adult… but what about the young, struggling and aspiring models?

We need changes. I’d prefer that there would be no girl working under the age of 16, but if that has to be the case then I’d love to see teens escorted by a guardian to castings, shows, and shoots. The CFDA has set codes in place for their members and I’d love to see the entire industry follow. Society legislates a lot of things - no steroid use in sports is one example - its only reasonable that there be rules of conduct to keep the fashion industry healthy.

In the past, models have spoken out on this issue, only to be accused of saying something because their careers were on the brink of extinction. This is not so in my case. I actually first spoke out about this two years ago at the peak of what a model would consider the ideal career and there was a reaction - those who were the worst offenders suddenly asked me to work for them! This was a public relations ploy and I wasn’t prepared to fall for that. I said “No, lets go a few seasons, lets see if you change, then I will work with you”. They didn’t change. I haven’t worked for them.

Of my generation of models I’m exactly where I need to be in my career and I’m grateful to use my position to actively speak out against this with the support of the CFDA and Vogue. My sincere hope is that through our efforts young models will one day be spared the humiliation, the risky weight loss, the depression that comes along with anorexia and the misery of abandonment by an industry ashamed to see them turn into actual women.

There are natural human standards in how we treat one another and how we treat children. There are those who continue to trample on these standards but there are also champions of a better way. I hope that the continued efforts of the CFDA and all those who hold these values in regard will bolster the opinion of those on the opposing side of the industry to ensure a true change for the better.

Now that the weight issue has been brought up again, will the industry actually change? In my opinion, there are too many models, designers, casting directors and agents who have not shown efforts to make this change. Designers should not hire girls who are too young, or emaciated and sick. Especially for new models, there seems to be a direct correlation between one's success and body weight. The problem is that there will always be models willing to starve themselves to find success within the industry...many of the girls from foreign countries have no other choice but to do so because they see modeling as their only option to improve their life and escape poverty.

I applaud Coco for making this statement. It is probably very difficult to speak out against the business you work in. I hope to see her efforts turn into actual change.

Too read coco's blog, click here :


Emily Tebbetts said...

First of all, she is gorgeous. Second of all, her "speech" of sorts was extremely mature, well thought out, and well written, in my opinion. I really respect her for the way that she approached the issue, and I do hope the she is a part of the change in the industry!! :)

Allison said...

Go Coco!