How Big is Too Big?

by ionarosemccabe

Many of you will have seen the video ‘Too Big for the Industry’ in the past few days. It’s been hard to miss on my news feed with various friends reposting articles related to body image in the fashion industry. Agnes Hedengård, who made the video, is a 19 year old model and former contestant on Sweden’s Next Top Model. The short Youtube clip features her standing in a bikini while she explains to viewers that she can no longer get modelling work due to the unfavourable size of her hips, backside and measurements, even though her BMI is 17.5 which is classed as underweight.

One thing I noticed about the video, is that Agnes does not state what her measurements actually are. Measurements are commonly used in the industry rather than comparing models’ BMI. BMI is often criticised as it does not take into account muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, and racial and sex differences. This is why measurements are usually favoured. If Agnes had shared her measurements, I think this would make her a lot more relatable to models watching. The average measurements of a female model are  34-24-34 (bust-waist-hips). This is regardless of height.

I’m much smaller than most models I have worked with or met, yet I will still be expected to have the same measurements as someone a lot taller than me. I have always been naturally slim and have a small waist but my short legs breed hip measurement issues if I don’t keep them in check. This is not to say another model could be blessed with small hips but struggles to maintain their waist. It all varies, but as models, it is our job to know what we should be working on and how to keep to the measurements that are required of us. Is it easy? Hell no, but until the industry starts to accept different measurements, that’s the drill.

Although it is clear to see Agnes has an incredibly slim frame,  it is also apparent to me that she does have a slightly larger bottom half. I can 100% relate to what she is saying having heard the exact same things from agencies multiple times, but I also know when I am not in my best shape and need to work out more or switch up my diet. Coming from someone who is in the same industry and has the same ‘problem’ area, I do think it’s something that can easily be worked on with a few weekly runs and daily exercises. I have absolutely no idea what exercise regime Agnes has, but her butt does look like mine when I don’t work out and am snacking on too much chocolate. I’m not saying that it’s bad – but from an industry perspective and my own honest opinion, it could look better.  If she wants to start doing the exercises that could help her get more work, that’s down to her and changing a negative situation into a positive.

A positive change I have noticed recently is top models promoting #strongnotskinny on social media. They are basically favouring healthy lifestyle choices over the need to be thin. These models have a huge impact on body image among girls and women all over the world and it’s important for people to see that they work hard for the bodies they have. Karlie Kloss says she feels most beautiful when she feels strong. Gigi Hadid confesses to indulging in a couple of cheeseburgers on a weekly basis, then works it off with boxing classes, whereas Rosie Huntington-Whiteley promotes a clean protein-rich diet and uploads her workouts regularly. Why do I believe them, you may be wondering? Their bodies don’t look malnourished or sickly, so it does make it a lot easier to believe they, like the rest of us, enjoy a Big Mac from time to time.

It’s interesting to see that agencies are now asking models to tone up, rather than sport the ‘heroin chic’ look that Kate Moss made so popular in the 90’s.  If more agencies took a healthier approach to dealing with their models instead of simply saying ‘There’s these really good agencies that want to work with you, but you need to be in better shape…’, I can see it really helping the industry. They should coach models on nutrition and fitness, instead of leaving them to their own devices which, as we all know, does not always produce healthy results.

Although gym memberships for models can be costly for agencies, I do think this would really benefit models as a social and fitness activity and offers an alternative to partying. Agencies would be doing their bit to assist models to gain a better outlook on body image and models should be able to improve their fitness, energy levels, appearance and performance. Even renting model apartments in a block with a gym could be a more cost efficient alternative.

 Do I think Agnes is too big for the modelling industry? No, but I do understand what her agency are saying. When all is considered, if measurement requirements won’t be changed, attitudes most certainly can. That goes for both agencies and models.

video via Agnes Hedengård – Youtube