One year ago, Texas-born model Ali Michael walked in Spring fashion shows in New York, Paris, London, and Milan, for a total of 31 shows.
This Spring, Michael, now 18, left Paris after walking in just one show, and didn’t walk in Milan at all.
She had just walked 10 shows in New York, and had been touted as a “next big thing” since her debut a couple years ago – so what gives?
Mom Mary Anne reported that casting directors for Paris Fashion Week cited a five-pound weight gain as a disqualifier, and that her legs were “too fat.”
Last week the model appeared on the Today show with Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Amy Astley to discuss with Ann Curry the industry’s impact on body image.
Five-foot-nine Michael was discovered when she weighed 130 pounds, and gradually lost nearly 30 pounds, all the while getting more opportunities and success in the modeling world. On Today, she remembers going a year without menstruating, and her hair weakening and falling out due to malnutrition. “That’s kind of when I realized that this isn’t worth it anymore, and it had completely taken over,” Michael says.
So after gaining a little she went to Paris this spring, but was only cast in the Yohji Yamamoto show.
All three women were intent on informing viewers that this is not a unique situation. But it is certainly another red flag for the competitive modeling industry. Madrid and Milan have already set a BMI minimum for models, but clearly the industry as a whole needs to set consistent standards.
Teen Vogue’s June/July issue will feature a story detailing Michael’s experience. Models with eating disorders may seem cliché but it’s still a reality.
Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.