A few weeks ago, British model Charli Howard, 23, penned an aggressive open letter to her former modeling agency after she was tired of being told that she was too big and that her body was too curvaceous for the industry.
Standing at 5 feet 8 inches at a UK size 6-8 (US size 2-4), Howard revealed that she was ordered to lose at least an inch off of her waist to suffice for standard industry measurements. Charli's agency went as far as deeming her "out of shape," and even threatened that no work could be found for her if she wasn't to tackle the whopping 2.5 centimeters.
With my babes at @nakdfashion today 💅🏼 #behindthescenes @brigitteheininger @wilhelminamodels #selfie #behindthescenes
A photo posted by Charli Howard (@charlihoward) on Oct 2, 2015 at 3:54am PDT
When a model begins by saying, "Here's a big FUCK YOU to my (now ex) modeling agency," something's gone amiss. Howard was all but victimizing in her letter on Facebook, proudly stating, "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. I refuse to feel ashamed and upset on a daily basis for not meeting your ridiculous, unobtainable beauty standards. In case you hadn't realized, 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'." Howard continued with, "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 & the WOMAN I've become, give me a call." Since the posting, Charli has left Wilhelmina and has recently been signed by Muse Model Management.
Hello Amewicaaaa 🇺🇸 @musemodelsnyc
A photo posted by Charli Howard (@charlihoward) on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:19am PST
Howard's case is unfortunately nothing new, as unrealistic beauty standards are more prevalent in today's society than ever before. With the likes of celebrities and fashion industry icons like Tyra Banks, who told tabloids to "kiss my fat ass" on her talkshow in 2007, alongside Victoria's Secret model, Gigi Hadid, who also recently spoke on the issue last month when she defended her figure on an Instagram post saying, "Your mean comments don't make me want to change my body;" the pressures to stay thin and conform to societal ideals is ever pertinent, even for seemingly "perfect" celebrities.
Both the fashion and modeling industries are infamous for thriving on the unhealthy obsession with body image and unattainable beauty standards. Stories like Charli's resonate quite a lot with the pressures people deal with, especially high school and college students who are at the peak of their insecurities.
I went around campus interviewing people, asking what a situation like Charli's should mean for girls of our generation. USC sophomore Kiara Vahdani said, "It's a continuous problem. Girls in our generation are constantly looking in magazines and on social media, wishing that they can one day look like these models and celebrities when they don't even look that good in real life." Many said they really appreciated Charli's message, like USC Junior, Niki Nader, who said, "I think her letter was really inspiring, and it demonstrates to girls that they shouldn't feel self conscious and that they should take pride in their own skin."
We love Charli's courage, and hope that girls continue to draw inspiration from strong role-models like her.
Reach Contributor Claudia Dayani here.