We all know that the fashion industry is full of ridiculous body shape expectations. But recently designers have started making clothes for more than just the cookie cutter sample size model. And that is thanks in part to the body acceptance movement and many models speaking out against the things they've experienced while trying to make it in the industry.
Eating disorders are everywhere, and aspiring models often develop extremely unhealthy habits in an attempt to look a certain way. Even some plus sized models have spoken out about the struggle to gain weight in order to fit an ideal. No one should have to obsess that much over the number on the scale. While things may have improved since Kate Moss' heyday of "heroin chic", unfortunately, there's still no shortage of models out there with stories about being told they were too fat, no matter how thin they actually were at the time.
15 Gigi Hadid
20-year-old Gigi Hadid did some modeling as a baby, and returned to the industry in 2011 after signing with IMG Models and landing a Guess campaign. In 2014, Sport's Illustrated named her one of their 12 rookies for their annual swimsuit edition. She's also appeared in countless runway shows and on the covers of magazines like ELLE Canada and Teen Vogue. As a teenager she was a volleyball player and she's always had an athletic figure. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Hadid said, "When I first went to visit different agencies in New York, a lot of them were like, you have to lose a lot of weight." But instead of losing weight, she embraced her curves and made it onto high fashion runways all over the world anyway.
14 Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne signed with Storm Model Management in 2009 when she was 17, and her first paying gig was for Burberry's spring/summer 2011 campaign. She has since become one of the most recognizable models in the world, but lately she's been focusing more on acting. Part of the reason for that is because she's sick the fashion industry's obsession with weight. In an interview with WSJ Magazine she said, "It's horrible living in a world where I'll get a call from someone saying, 'So-and-so says you were partying a lot and you were looking this way and you need to lose weight.' It makes me so angry. If you don't want to hire me, don't hire me." Earlier this year she left her modeling agency to focus on her acting career.
13 Gemma Ward
Australian model Gemma Ward was discovered when she was only 14, and she appeared on 20 different Vogue covers around the world before taking a break from the fashion industry. She was considered the It model of the moment from 2004 to 2007 and she walked every big runway during every fashion week in the world. In 2007 she walked the Chanel runway in a bikini and the backlash over her weight gain was enough to force her into temporary retirement. At only 20-years-old, Gemma hadn't so much gained weight as she had grown womanly curves that she hadn't had before because she was only a teenager. But that didn't stop the speculation that she was overeating and just didn't care about modeling anymore.
12 Kendall Jenner
Kendall Jenner is one of the most well-known models of the moment and she was recently walked in this year's Victoria's Secret fashion show. She's also been in countless magazine spreads, and walked in high fashion shows for top designers like Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, and Michael Kors all by the time she turned 20. But with all that success inevitably comes the criticism. In 2014, Australian tabloid Famous featured a photo of Kendall walking in a Tommy Hilfiger show on their cover with the headline "Model Bosses Blast Kendall 'You're Too Fat For Runway'". If that wasn't enough, it appeared they also photoshopped cellulite onto the back of her legs to "prove" their fake headline.
11 Kate Upton
Kate Upton is one of those models who is curvy and proud of it. She's been on the cover of the Sport's Illustrated swimsuit edition twice and graced the pages of numerous other magazines like Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Vogue. In 2012, a blogger on the website Skinny Gurl called Upton "well-marbled" and said she "confidently lumbered up a runway like there’s a buffet at the end of it." She also called Upton a "little piggie" and described her body as "huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition – she looks like a squishy brick." But Upton isn't interested in losing weight to fit into the fashion industry, because as she says "I’m not doing drugs or not eating. I want to enjoy life and I can’t be enjoying life if I’m not eating and miserable."
10 Kylie Bisutti
Kylie Bisutti won Victoria's Secret model search competition in 2009 and walked in the fashion show that same year. She also modeled for FHM and Maxim before quitting the industry. She published a memoir entitled I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model in 2013 where she talked about the pressure to be perfect, struggles with eating disorders and crash dieting, and the provocative nature of the industry. She was a practicing Christian and decided she no longer wanted to help promote anything that was selling sex. In her book she also discussed her agent calling her a "fat cow" and telling her that 115 pounds was too fat for her 5'10 height. She said she was restricting her diet to "oatmeal, fruits and vegetables to meet runway expectations."
9 Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks has been a role model and mentor to young models for years now thanks to her show America's Next Top Model. Whens she first entered the modeling industry and landed the Sport's Illustrated swimsuit issue in 1997, her curves were what made her famous. She was also a Victoria's Secret Angel for eight years. Since retiring from professional modeling in 2005, she's been criticized in numerous tabloids because of her weight. Some particularly cruel headlines read "America's Next Top Waddle" and "Tyra Porkchop". At 5'10 and 161 pounds, Banks has spoken out many times about body confidence including her famous speech on her talk show where she hollered "Kiss my fat a$s!"
8 Crystal Renn
Crystal Renn started out her career as a straight-sized model. She was discovered when she was 14, but then told if she really wanted to be successful she would have to lose a third of her body weight. After struggling with anorexia and body image issues for years she finally decided to focus on her health and eventually made the switch to plus-sized modeling. She describes her experiences in her memoir Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves. She's been a lot more successful as a plus-sized model, but has spoken out many times about the fact that it's just as difficult to maintain the right weight now as it was before. Her weight still fluctuates, but she wants to make that the new norm, because it's something most women experience.
7 Agnes Hedengard
Swedish model Agnes Hedengard was 19 when she stopped getting booked for modeling jobs. But instead of accepting that, she made a video to shame the fashion industry for fat-shaming her and to draw attention to how ridiculous body shape expectations are for young models. In the video she's standing in lingerie to show her 5'11 frame and says, "I don't get any more jobs since the industry thinks I'm too big. They think my butt is too big, and they think my hips are too wide. According to the modeling industry, you cannot look like this. You need to be thinner."
6 Lara Stone
Lara Stone is a size 4, which fits perfectly within the fashion industry's expectations of a model's ideal body. In an interview with Vogue, Stone talked about dealing with people constantly discussing her body and her weight, a lot of the time when she's standing right in front of them. She also said she has been given a corset to wear to make her look thinner because she's "What they say is 'curvy,' but you know they mean fat." Stone's measurements might be considered slightly bigger than the industry norm, but she's far from fat. It has taken her a long time to accept that. "People still tell me I'm fat, but when I look in the mirror, that's not what I see," she says.
5 Heidi Klum
Heidi Klum is one of the most well-known models in the world thanks to her work in Sport's Illustrated and as a Victoria's Secret Angel. In 2009, German designer Wolfgang Joop said Heidi was "no runway model. She is simply too heavy and has too big a bust." Klum has always been more of a commercial model than high fashion and even she has admitted she was never accepted on all the top runways." I never really fit in the clothes. I tried. But I never got to walk in Paris and do all the big big fashion shows," she's said. She's also given birth to four children and has said that she's much more concerned with being healthy than with being thin.
4 Coco Rocha
Canadian model Coco Rocha had her big breakthrough at the age of 16 when she opened a couture Christian Lacroix show in Paris in 2006. She was considered an It model for a few years and even earned the title "supermodel". But it wasn't long before she wasn't booking all the jobs she wanted anymore. "I’m not in demand for the shows anymore," she said. "I’ve been told to lose weight when I was really skinny." At a panel where fashion industry insiders discussed raising the sample size from a 0 to a 4, Rocha said "it took awhile to grow the confidence to say, 'This is who I am, take it or leave it.'" But for many models, refusing to lose any more weight could mean they can no longer make money as a model.
3 Ali Michael
When she was 16, Alexandra (Ali) Michael was just starting to make a name for herself, walking in a variety of high profile runways during Paris Fashion Week. But only a year later, at 17, she was told "her legs were too plump" for the Paris runways. She admitted she had gained 5 pounds in the last year, but that was after struggling with an eating disorder that had brought her down to 106 pounds at 5'9. She ended up walking in just one show and then heading home because she didn't want to starve herself to fit extreme ideals anymore. After taking a break from the industry, she made a successful comeback and has since walked in numerous major shows.
2 Karolina Kurkova
Czech model Karolina Kurkova was an official Victoria's Secret Angel for three years and she was called the "next supermodel" by Vogue's Anna Wintour. She's appeared on 25 different Vogue covers and appeared on People's Most Beautiful People list. In 2008 she walked in a Cia Maritima show in Brazil and was blasted by the media for looking "uncharacteristically chubby" with "cellulite on her butt". She revealed that she had unexpectedly gained 30 pound that year because of an under active thyroid. She underwent surgery and was back to her old self eventually, but the judgement from the fashion industry for something she had no control over was severe.
1 Katie Willcox
When Katie Willcox first started modeling she was considered plus-sized. She told People magazine, "When I got scouted for modeling, they were like, 'Oh you'd be perfect for plus-size modeling.' That totally shattered my self-esteem. In high school, that's the last thing anyone wants to hear. It's like, I'm trying to like myself and you basically just called me fat."
When she was at her healthiest she was a size 10, but she found out that size (which is average for most women) didn't fit into straight-sized or plus-sized modeling. Rather than quit the industry, she decided to diet her way to a size 6 so she could book catalog jobs. She ended up starting the social media movement "Healthy is the New Skinny" and launching her own modeling agency Natural Model Management in 2011 that focuses on models at their healthiest, no matter what size that happens to be.