Curve models criticized the Melbourne Fashion Festival for its ‘deliberate’ lack of size diversity on its catwalks.
The charge that the MFF organizers chose not to cast a large enough number of plus-size models has been made both on and off the runway.
MFF’s board made a “really clear decision not to cast models older than 12 to 14,” according to Chelsea Bonner, a size diversity activist and CEO of modeling agency Bella Management.
‘There’s just no excuse this year; it was such a deliberate casting direction.
‘They showed up with each of our models up to a size 22 multiple times. My manager in Melbourne kept asking why they didn’t pick models over a size 14 and those emails were just ignored.’
Melbourne Fashion Festival has defended its model lineup after coming under fire for its lack of size diversity. (Pictured: A model walks the runway at the Melbourne Fashion Festival)
Model Jess Seeto (pictured) said she felt ostracized by the experience.
Chelsea Bonner’s (pictured) modeling agency, Bella Management, lobbied for more curvy models to be included on the catwalks.
Jess Seeto, one of two plus-size models to walk in the final MFF show, said the experience made her feel “left out.”
“It didn’t feel right that there were only two plus-size models and two disability models there,” Ms. Seeto said.
“It really sucked and it made me feel like I was the token ethnic fat lady there and I was just there to check a box, which didn’t feel right.”
Ms Seeto said, “It didn’t feel right that there were only two plus size models and two disability models there.”
In response to questions from NCA NewsWire, MFF said it “engaged models and spokespersons from diverse backgrounds” and that ten of its premium runways featured curvy talent. (Pictured: A model walks the runway at the Melbourne Fashion Festival)
According to Ms. Seeto, of the cohort of approximately 30 models who walked in the final show, only five were ‘diversity models’, including models with curves and people with disabilities.
In response to questions from NCA NewsWire, MFF said it “engaged models and spokespersons from diverse backgrounds” and that ten of its premium runways featured curvy talent.
“The festival cares deeply about accessibility, diversity and inclusion and will continue to place great emphasis on this as part of our programming and casting at future events,” a spokesperson said.
The festival also featured the Fabulous and Trendy (FAT) Plus Size Runway, a runway dedicated to size 16-24 models and a plus size market.
Ms Seeto said she was in tears after her fitting for the final show, commenting on how the clothes fit despite the size 16 model being forced to try on size 12 garments.
“I cried after the test because I really struggle and a lot of fat people struggle with the feeling that their clothes don’t fit when their clothes are supposed to fit,” she said.
“At that moment I felt like I shouldn’t be there.”
Ms. Bonner confirmed that some of the girls from her agency left the MFF tryouts in tears over the comments they made; however, she said that she didn’t think they were personal attacks, but rather hurtful comments in general towards people with larger bodies.
‘[Fatphobia] it corrupts the thinking of everyone involved, not just the models. It corrupts the stylists, the casting directors, the magazines for the advertisers,’ he said.
Maia O’Connor (pictured) said she was appalled by the lack of body diversity on the catwalks at this year’s Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Ms O’Connor protested wearing this slogan T-shirt
A spokesperson said the MFF was not aware of models who left the tests feeling uncomfortable and that action would have been taken if the festival had been informed.
The lack of representation throughout the festival forced a model to take a stand, with Maia O’Connor wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘WHERE ARE THE FAT B**** S? SIZE 10 DOES NOT COUNT! DO IT BETTER!’ print on the back
Ms O’Connor attended numerous shows at MFF this year and was horrified by the lack of diversity after the body positivity movement brought curvy models to the forefront of the fashion industry.
‘What are we working for if we can only make it to one festival and all that hard work is undone? A group of people can sit around a table and just decide they don’t really care,” she said.
She said she saw attendees read her shirt; however, most of them ‘turned their backs’ on the message.
“It was like there was a huge elephant in the room and I had just pointed at it and everyone was trying to close their eyes,” he said.
Ms. Bonner urged the MFF to take a different direction with their casting in subsequent years.
“I just hope they really think deeply about their direction for next year because it was an insult to everyone this year,” he said.