All eyes are on the models cast at this London Fashion Week, as a rallying cry has been issued for greater diversity on the runways to help the UK become “a truly body confident nation”.
The Be Real Campaign, a national movement for body confidence, has called on designers, fashion houses, clothing brands and model agencies to show a greater commitment to tackling body image anxiety.
“Just last year we saw what appeared to be a re-emergence of ultra-thin models at London Fashion Week events,” said Denise Hatton, YMCA England and Wales chief executive and founding partner of the Be Real Campaign.
“These events are the highlight in every fashion fan’s calendar and are beamed to millions of people, most of whom will never be able to live up to these unrealistic beauty ‘ideals’.”
Christian Siriano’s New York Fashion Week show on 11 February, was praised for including models who ranged from US size two to 16, and who represented different body figures, hair types, skin tones and ethnicities.
Be Real would like to see similar displays of diversity in London, as the campaigners state a lack of inclusivity is damaging.
“Constantly being bombarded with only one body type, particularly an extremely thin body type, risks creating an insidious, unhealthy and damaging pressure for people to attempt to become something they’re not,” said Hatton.
“We are seeing evidence of this leading to greater body image anxiety with 60% of adults saying they are ashamed of the way they look and almost a third of young people in school not taking part in activities like PE because of their appearance.
“Industries have a responsibility to promote a healthy body image and reflect the true diversity of the population with all the different shapes, sizes, skin tones, ages, genders and ethnicities so we can become a truly body confident nation.”
The Be Real Campaign is chaired by MP Mary Glindon and co-ordinated by YMCA. It was founded in partnership with Dove and is sponsored by bareMinerals, N Brown, New Look and Superdrug.
Campaigners are asking fashion industry insiders to sign up to their ‘Pledge’ to reflect diversity and promote health and wellbeing.
So far the Pledge has received the following fashion industry sign ups since its launch in November: brands Alicia Kay Style and Sazzmatazz, stylist Joey Bevan and the campaign’s partners: N Brown, Curva Mag and All Walks Beyond The Catwalk.