Size eight former model reveals she considered joining a plus-size agency to escape the pressure to lose weight – and likens the job to being in an ‘abusive’ relationship
- Leanne Maskell, 26, from Coventry started modelling when she was only 13
- Appeared on Lorraine today to discuss constant pressure to lose weight
- Said once industry sucks you in, it’s like trying to escape abusive relationship
- She’s written a tell-all manifesto for models to avoid exploitation in the industry
A former model has revealed how she considered becoming a plus size model to escape the constant pressure she was under to lose weight – even though she was a size eight.
Leanne Maskell, originally from Coventry, started modelling aged 13 and has appeared in Vogue and i-D magazine and modelled for Asos, Nasty gal, Boohoo.com, Urban outfitters.
Appearing on Lorraine to speak about her new book to help aspiring models avoid exploitation, Leanne – who is now a legal advisor – explained that she was under pressure to lose weight throughout her entire career, just like every other model she knows.
And she said she even considered becoming a plus size model so that she could escape the constant pressure.
Leanne admitted that people often ask her: ‘Why did you stay in it so long if you hated it?’
She explained: ‘It’s like a domestically abusive relationship. You think nobody else will ever want you, you’ll never be able to do anything else.’
Leanne Maskell, originally from Coventry, started modelling aged 13 and revealed she was constantly asked to lose weight, even though she was a size 8
Leanne’s experiences in the fashion industry previously caused her to spiral into a severe depression, anorexia and bulimia after she was told to lose weight.
Speaking on today’s show she said: ‘I’ve had it all the way through my career. Some points were worse than others.
‘Every single model I know has been asked to lose weight, it’s a very common thing. They just want you tiny. You can’t be a normal size. We should be celebrating people for who they are. Why do you have to be a curve model or very thin?
‘It’s really not something you can go through and feel OK about if you have this constant pressure.
Leanne Maskell, originally from Coventry, started modelling aged 13. At 26, she’s spent half her life in the industry. With more than a decade’s experience, she’s appeared in Vogue and i-D magazine and modelled for Asos, Nasty gal, Boohoo.com, Urban outfitters
‘I was going to become a plus size model because I thought that would be so much easier than having 24 hours of ‘what have you eaten, what do you weigh. what are your measurements’.
‘Just pressure that infiltrates every part of your life, because modelling isn’t just a job it’s your whole identity.’
When she was first asked to lose weight, Leanne pushed back, but quickly realised it wasn’t a choice.
I wish aged 18 I was able to say, “it’s not my problem”. I initially did say no, but the person who scouted me made me feel quite bad about it. I was on this trail I couldn’t get off.
Previously, Leanne spoke about how difficult it is to escape the industry once you’ve been sucked in.
‘Modelling is like being on drugs: you have that constant craving to be approved by someone and when you’re earning £7-an-hour, it’s very hard to hear, “Tomorrow you can go to Mexico and be paid £10,000″‘ she told the The Times.
She was also instructed to lose 5cm from her hips to land a shoot with a high fashion magazine.
‘It seemed great, but then I asked how much I’d earn and was told, “These magazines often don’t pay anything”’ I was, like, “OK, you want me to starve myself and work for free?”.’
Leanne began modelling as a teenager. After her parents divorced her mother moved her to Cyprus, and despite her objections signed her up to a modelling agency.
She quickly got jobs, and balanced a career appearing on the pages of Vogue, with going to school and modelling lessons at the weekends.
But constant pressure caused Leanne into a downward spiral of depression and eating disorders. She was among the 68 per cent in the fashion industry to suffer from an anxiety-related disorder.
Leanne has spoken out about the dark side of the fashion industry, revealing her poor treatment caused her to spiral into a severe depression, anorexia and bulimia after she was told to lose weight
After spending her teen years modelling, she gave it up when she got a place at Queen Mary’s University in London to study Law.
But she was quickly approached by a scout who asked her to visit an agency.
Still a teenager and wearing a size 8, she met was agents but was told she would only be signed if she lost 3cm (1.2in) off her hips. She initially refused, but later took the job after an emotional call from the scout saying she would lose her job if she didn’t sign up.
After that, she was sent regular emails asking what she ate and had weekly measurements at the agency.
Having now traded the catwalk for a legal firm, she’s firmly out of the industry and has written a tell all guide for those starting out to avoid exploitation. She says modelling is like ‘being on drugs’
‘Obviously I became super anorexic and bulimic. I’d stave myself before being measured, then buy a box of chocolates on the way home’ she told the publication.
After four months, she lost the 3cm from her hips, but was then told she needed to lose another 2cm (three quarters of an inch) to keep getting jobs.
She was assigned a personal trainer, and asked to pay for them – at £100 a session.
‘Everyone around me was saying “you have the best job ever” but I hated my life’ she continued.
Leanne began modelling as a teenager. After her parents divorced her mother moved her to Cyprus, and despite her objections signed her up to a modelling agency
Still a teenager and wearing a size 8, Leanne was told she could only join an agency if she lost 3cm (1.2in) off her hips. She initially refused, but later took the job after an emotional call from the scout saying she would lose her job if she didn’t sign up
Her manifesto, which she began writing after ‘hitting rock bottom’ details how models can avoid exploitation. She speaks about things like taxes. ‘A lot of models assume it’s already been taken out of their earnings and get a nasty shock when the bill arrives’ she said.
She also recalls stories of sexual exploitation models often face.
In her first job, aged 13, she was laughed after covering her chest by two male dressers who told her ‘we’re gay’. In another shocking story she reveals is how an 18-year-old friend was offered £10,000 for sex, and that any night of the week models can ‘go clubbing with “rich men”‘ and get ‘a free dinner and as much free alcohol and drugs as you like’.
Leanne, who now vouches she will never return to modelling, was sent regular emails asking what she’d eaten
Despite public perception, Leanne explains that ’99 per cent of models aren’t supermodels’ and aren’t paid well.
In one story, she recalls being asked to model for a high fashion magazine and being told it doesn’t pay.
Leanne, still a teenager for the majority of her career, didn’t speak out, for fear of being labelled ‘difficult’.
Now back in London, after years of travelling and living in Australia, she’s determined to never return to modelling.
- The Model Manifesto by Leanne Maskell, £14.99
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