As you can probably imagine, the modeling world is pretty brutal. As a model, you have to look “perfect” all the time, and if your type of “perfect” isn’t trendy at the moment, it could be months or even years before you get work again.
There are also impossible beauty standards to live up to in terms of weight. Models have always had to have appealing silhouettes, and most models are required to be extremely skinny in order to keep their jobs. There are even instances in which a model has partnered with a high-fashion company for years, but is let go suddenly when she can no longer fit into the sample clothes. This just goes to show you that modeling can be extremely ruthless, and the expectation of constantly having an “ideal” body can literally cost some models their livelihood.
Some of the women who are known for their modeling abilities were once told they were “too fat” to model clothes on the runway. Most of these models are quite small by normal standards, and have bodies that most women work extremely hard to achieve. You won’t believe your eyes. Here are 10 models who were actually “too fat” for the industry.
10 Filippa Hamilton
Filippa Hamilton is a gorgeous model who was once one of the faces of Ralph Lauren. She’s 5 feet 10 inches, and weighs 120 pounds. This sounds like the description of a model to most people. However, Ralph Lauren terminated Hamilton after eight years. She was told one day that she would no longer be working for the company, because she couldn’t fit into the sample clothes. Ralph Lauren denies that she was fired due to her weight, but also stated that Hamilton did not “meet the obligations under her contract with us.” Ralph Lauren also stated that Filippa Hamilton was an important part of the company’s branding. Obviously, she wasn’t important enough to stay with the company, since a size 4 is apparently considered “fat” in the modeling world.
9 Coco Rocha
Coco Rocha has walked runways for various designers and is well-known for being one of the most recognizable cover girls for Vogue. She is a size 6, and states that she’s been rejected in the modeling industry for being too fat. The Canadian model even states that she’s lost out on some catwalk jobs because she was asked to lose more weight and refused to do so. She admits that she’s not “in demand for the catwalks anymore” because she’s not willing to look sickly just to promote clothing. Rocha has been modeling since she was 15, and is one of the few models to speak out about the fact that models are expected to be a size 0 in order to get steady work.
8 Gigi Hadid
Gigi Hadid is one of the “it” girls in fashion these days. She’s gotten some criticism from people accusing her of using her wealth and famous parents to get ahead in the modeling industry (her mother is a former model and her stepdad is music mogul David Foster). However, Hadid has insisted that her hard work has gotten her where she is, despite the fact that she was ordered to lose weight in order to get modeling gigs. Hadid, who is just 20 years old, was named one of the rookies in the Sports Illustrated 2014 annual swimsuit issue. However, because of her athletic body (she’s a volleyball player), she was told that she was too curvy. Gigi states that when she visited modeling agencies in New York in hopes of booking runway shows, she was told she’d have to lose “a lot of weight.” Fortunately, her mom was there to assure her that she’d find the right agency to work with. She eventually signed a contract with IMG models, and has already achieved supermodel status.
7 Ali Michael
Ali Michael is a native of Texas, and has been modeling since she was a teenager. At 15, she weighed 130 pounds and was 5 feet 9 inches, which seems pretty proportioned. These are actually measurements most women would be more than happy to show off. However, each time she tried to move forward in her career, she was told that she was too fat. She only had to lose a few pounds to model in Texas. However, modeling agencies in New York and Paris required her to be skinnier. Eventually, she was starving herself and reached 102 pounds. Michael states that the wake-up call for her was when she ran her fingers through her hair, and a clump of her own tresses came out in her hand. Ali Michael spoke out about the dangers that models endure just to stay in the industry, and was featured in both the Wall Street Journal and Teen Vogue for her willingness to speak on this very serious issue.
6 Agnes Hedengard
Agnes Hedengard was told she was too big to be a model, even though she has a body mass index of 17.5, which is considered medically underweight. The 19-year-old model posted a video on YouTube to talk about the ways that the fashion industry gives women a warped sense of what it means to be healthy and beautiful. She stood in front of her mirror in a bikini to show viewers just how skinny she was, and talked about the fact that she worried she wouldn’t be able to support herself as a model. The video went viral, and was the inspiration for several opinion pieces and news articles online. Hedengard said that she got the inspiration to make the video when a younger model friend of hers felt that she was too big. That’s when she fully realized that the weight expectations in the modeling world were a huge issue.
5 Kendall Jenner
Kendall Jenner, one of the younger siblings in the Kardashian family, is certainly making some major moves in the modeling industry. However, there were rumors swirling around the notion that some modeling agencies wouldn’t hire Jenner because she was “too fat.” There was also a time when Kendall was criticized for being too skinny, because her sisters are known for their curvy figures. There were also rumors that Jenner’s cover photo on Famous magazine was made to look like she had cellulite. These days, it seems as though Kendall has turned the negative publicity into something positive, because she’s gotten in shape (without appearing to have lost any weight), and has gone on to model for popular luxury brands like Givenchy and Chanel.
4 Tyra Banks
Even though she has officially retired from modeling, Tyra Banks is still one of the most recognizable faces in the beauty industry. She has turned her modeling and business skills into a pretty successful empire, and is also well-known for her show, America’s Next Top Model, and its spin-offs. Banks also has the distinction of being the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She shares that she was once told she was too fat for the runway, and says that in her 20s, she started to get natural curves. Tyra states that her modeling agency gave her mother a list of designers that would no longer hire her due to her new weight. Banks said she would have had to go against nature and deprive her body of nutrients in order to get more work. She states that her mother took her to get pizza in response to the criticism, to show Banks that she didn’t need to starve herself in order to be successful. The rest, as they say, is history.
3 Gemma Ward
Gemma Ward took a much-needed break from modeling six years ago, because she had a hard time handling the unrealistic pressures that are put on models. She retired when she wore a swimsuit for Chanel and was called “too fat.” Ward recently opened the Prada show, and is showing her fans that she doesn’t want to continue to be labeled in a negative way just because she won’t starve herself. Gemma Ward appeared in a few movies while she was taking a break from modeling, but her Prada comeback was a huge deal, especially since she didn’t look rail thin while working the runway.
2 Karolina Kurkova
Karolina Kurkova is best known as a Victoria’s Secret Angel, and has a body that many women envy. That’s why it’s so hard to believe that Kurkova was once considered too fat to walk the runway. She had some thyroid issues a few years ago, which caused her to gain 30 pounds unintentionally. However, the modeling industry didn’t seem to care about Kurkova’s health issues, and simply criticized her for being “fat,” even though she was far from it. Kurkova said she was very worried, since she’d always followed a healthy diet and exercised often, so she didn’t understand what was happening to her body. Fashion critics stated that she had “cellulite on her butt” during Sao Paolo Fashion Week. However, there weren’t many media outlets asking about her health. Just goes to show you how heartless the industry can be.
1 Ana Carolina Reston
Ana Carolina Reston was a Brazilian fashion model. She developed an eating disorder, and actually lost her life because she was trying so hard to be skinny enough for the modeling industry. There are also reports that her fellow models, as well as professionals in the modeling world, knew that Reston had a problem, but didn’t care enough to help her. During her first photoshoot for 8st, she was told that she was too fat. Reston won the title of Miss Jundiai in 1999, and her mother even admitted that Ana Carolina won because she was “slim and elegant.” She could have walked many more runways if she hadn’t developed anorexia as a way to try to achieve an impossible standard of beauty.