Whitney Thompson, the first and only plus-size winner of America’s Next Top Model, recently voiced her rather passionate disdain for the fashion world. She still occasionally models, but most of her efforts these days are channeled into her spokeswoman work for the National Eating Disorders Association. In a recent interview, she called out several ugly facets of the fashion world, and says being a model isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Whitney serves up some snark to V Magazine for hiring Karl Lagerfeld to shoot the plus-sized issue, after some controversial comments he made in the past about the plus-sized fashion industry: “Karl Lagerfeld two years ago was saying the only people who care about plus size are the fat mummies sitting on their couches eating crisps. Now he’s shooting the plus issue for V, are you kidding? Really V, you forgot about that? I mean, it was a huge issue. And he has a Chanel line for plus girls and Crystal Renn’s in it and it’s so fake, it’s so phony and people just jump on the bandwagon. So I think it’s important to do research and be smart about the companies that you do support.” Ugh. Noted, Whit. Thanks.
She even opens up about the seedy underbelly of hiring young, foreign girls for their pre-pubescent bodies, only to ship them back once they’ve hit puberty. Reveals Thompson: “The majority of girls who do runway shows are 16 and under. Agencies and designers look for girls who haven’t hit puberty yet and so we ship these girls in from Russia and Brazil and they’re 14 and they don’t speak English and these are the girls that I go to castings with. That’s fine, they’re all great and young and ‘naturally skinny,’ when they’re 14 — most people are. But then once they hit puberty, 16 and 17, they have to do drugs, they’re doing cocaine, they’re smoking cigarettes all day every day, they’re doing the lemonade cleanse because if they don’t then they get shipped back to wherever they came from, and that’s just how the industry works. A lot of girls get depressed, some girls commit suicide, some girls starve to death, literally, and we kind of just don’t pay attention to it in the industry. We don’t really talk about it, but it’s very common.”
Teens get hit the hardest, says Thompson, but all models are dissed and disrespected. “Oh yeah, models get treated like crap. Worse than anyone. We get fed last, we don’t sleep, they treat you like nothing. When you think about it, everyone thinks modeling is so glamorous, but you don’t get to say what you wear, you don’t get to say how you look, what your hair color is, what length it is, where you live, what you do — you have no voice at all. And the bookers — because I was a straight-size model growing up in high school, and my hips were always one inch too big — and, yeah, you have 45-year-old men saying, ‘You’re too fat.’ You’re a teenage girl. It’s really disgusting. It’s an awful industry and, yeah, there is no soul in modeling.”
So why the itty bitty girls? Whitney says its because designers save money making itty bitty sample sizes: “The samples are tiny to save money. Because when you make a sample, say there’s a Versace gown and it’s hand-beaded and it costs Donatella $40,000 to do. And she makes it for a size six, OK a model’s going wear it on the runway and it probably will never get worn again. Well, wouldn’t it be smarter for her to make it in a double 0? Because she’s saving all this fabric, which means she’s saving beading, she’s saving work on the dress and it’s cheaper. She’s saving a lot of money by doing it at that size. And that’s I think where it started and basically where it stayed. It goes back to models having no rights or say in the industry and instead of fitting the dress to the model, they fit the model to the dress.”
Thanks for the insider look, Whitney, although our instincts tell us to shield our eyes. So, ANTM contestants, do you still wanna be on top?