I previously reported incorrectly that Wonderbra had signed and then fired model Katie Green. After speaking with representatives from some of the parties involved, and doing a bit more research, here's the whole story, which unfortunately got a bit lost in our editorial backlogs. Apologies to Wonderbra.
Back in July of '08, Wonderbra announced it was inviting women of all ages, shapes and sizes to participate in what it called "Britain's biggest underwear photoshoot." The result of the photoshoot was a billboard mosaic made up of pictures of the 1,000 women who showed up and got free makeovers and photoshoots. Unfortunately, Katie Green, who was chosen to be the star of the shoot, (her picture would appear as the composite of the mosaic) forgot to leave her digits (probably out of habit from all those slimy pub nights, right Katie?). When Katie didn't get called back, she thought it was time to move on to other things, and was just about to apply to become a police officer when her friends told her that her photo was in the paper and that Wonderbra was looking for her.
After the shoot, Wonderbra suggested that she sign with a modeling agency, and they suggested Premier. Premier didn't respond to our emails, but Katie told The News of the World that Premier said there was, "an issue with her weight." She was more than surprised because until then she had not heard anything negative about her weight, “so I said, ‘With respect, my curves got me the Wonderbra job and brought me to you. But now you’re saying I’m too fat.’ They made it very clear they wanted me to lose two dress sizes. That would mean shedding two stone. I’d have been a bag of bones.” (2 stone is 28 US pounds.)
After continuing pressure from Premier (phone calls asking about her weight, appointments to weigh her and take her measurements, etc) Katie decided she'd had it. Though at first she had gone along with it, losing 7 pounds in 8 days, in retrospect she thinks the whole thing was "madness." In the ensuing publicity, she managed to swing a gig with the lingerie company Ultimo, alongside spice girl Mel B. Since the Premier fiasco, she's been found a few times commenting in the UK tabloid The Sun about various subjects, insisting that she represents the shape of "real women." Of course, the Sun also likes to include the occasional naughty pictures of her alongside the article, but that's the Sun. One might argue that the fact that those photos have so much appeal suggests that she's right, and that her size 12 (US standard size 10) figure is not only in-line with real women, but it's also in-line with the het-male portion of the paper's largely conservative readership.
Katie goes so far as to publicly criticize specific choices that the fashion industry makes: "I think it's thoughtless that the British Fashion Council would 'crown' a stick-thin rake as their Model of the Year. It's almost like they are asking for young girls to have eating disorders. I want to march [Model of the Year Winner] Jourdan [Dunn] down to her local restaurant and shovel some food down her throat. Men just don't find this attractive and neither do any of us real women." While insulting a fellow model and playing mom to Jourdan probably won't help the situation, her criticisms of the anorexia-encouraging modeling industry might. After all, the cry is an old one from old-fashioned feminists, but a new one from a successful model who men drool over, and maybe it's time the fashion industry stopped being so afraid of a little curve here and there? Michelle Mone, creator of Ultimo, certainly thinks so: "by signing Katie it proves that models don’t have to be a size zero to look fabulous or to have a successful modelling career."
With all that attention, you might think Katie's career is built on blowing a scandal out of proportion, but a glance at her portfolio proves otherwise: she's a natural model, and knows how to show off her good looks and the outfits she's wearing. She takes advantage of the spotlight she's generated with her natural charisma, good looks and guts to talk about an important issue, and she might just make a difference.
Katie says that, "at a size 12 and 5ft 10in I am at the bottom of a healthy body mass index." Meaning, essentially, that she thinks she's on the skinny side of things. I think so, too.
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