‘Plus-size’ model Laura Wells has revealed the extreme dieting measures taken by her model roommates to prepare for Fashion Week.
The size 14 beauty lived with a group of standard ‘skinnier’ models during her stint working in New York, and says that their agents instructed them to stick to a diet of ‘one cracker and a couple of glasses of water’.
‘It goes to the extremes,’ Wells told the Australian Women’s Weekly.
‘No food being eaten, prescription dietary pills, agents telling girls that they’re only allowed to have one cracker and a couple glasses of water leading up to fashion week per day.’
‘It’s completely unhealthy, not only for their body but mentally as well.’
Laura told AWW editor Helen McCabe that her model friends would then compare themselves to her, who was working non-stop despite eating what she likes.
‘These girls are going to extremes to look like that, and then not being booked for any jobs,’ she said.
‘And then living with a plus size model who’s working every single day and comparing themselves to me.
‘I eat healthy, I work out, but I’ll let myself have a treat every now and then and have a glass of wine.
‘They couldn’t fathom the fact that they were putting themselves through so much stress and I was so happy with myself.’
Wells’ comments comes days after France passed legislation banning excessively thin models from participating in Paris Fashion Week.
Agents and fashion houses that hire them could also face fines under the new law, which was passed on April 3.
The move by France, with its fashion and luxury industries worth tens of billions of euros, comes after a similar ban by Israel in 2013, while other countries, like Italy and Spain, rely on voluntary codes of conduct to protect models.
The measure is part of a campaign against anorexia by President Francois Hollande’s government.
Lawmakers also made it illegal to condone anorexia and said any re-touched photo that alters the bodily appearance of a model for commercial purposes must carry a message stating it had been manipulated.
‘The activity of model is banned for any person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is lower than levels proposed by health authorities and decreed by the ministers of health and labour,’ the legislation says.
The lawmaker behind the bill previously said models would have to present a medical certificate showing a BMI of at least 18, about 55 kg (121 lb) for a height of 1.75 metres (5.7 feet), before being hired for a job and for a few weeks afterwards.
The law, voted through the lower house of parliament by Hollande’s Socialist majority despite opposition by conservative parliamentarians, envisages imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of 75,000 euros ($82,000) for any agency contravening it.
In the AWW video interview, Laura Wells recalls wanting to ‘punch’ a model scout when they suggested she could get work as a plus-size model.
The 177-centimetre beauty was studying science and law when she was spotted in New York City by talent scouts in 2005.
She said she felt insulted the first time she was asked to be a plus-sized model because of her misconceptions about the term.
‘I wanted to punch everyone in the face… [I thought] basically they were calling me fat,’ Wells said.
‘That was my perception of the word ‘plus size’, that people were calling me ‘fat’.’
Wells said while she was a plus-sized model who was defined as someone who was ‘four to six sizes bigger than a standard model’, she was not ‘plus-sized in reality’.
Since then Wells has gone to model for Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Myer, David Jones, Berlei and ASOS.
Despite her career breakthroughs, she thinks people’s perception of body image still has a long way to go.
‘It’s slowly changing but not to the extent where it needs to be,’ Wells said.
‘It needs to be at the point where it’s celebrated anymore… Why isn’t it just seen as normal?’
To watch the full interview, visit Australian Women’s Weekly.