body issues

The Fashion Industry’s Disturbing View of Gemma Ward’s Weight Gain

The new Page Six Magazine contains roughly 2,500 words on Gemma Ward’s fallout from the fashion industry. You see, something terrible happened to her: She gained weight. The piece is a disturbing chronicle of Ward’s transition from teenager to adult and how the industry views it. Now 22, Ward was discovered in Perth, Australia, at the age of 14. She appeared on more than twenty Vogue covers, landing her first American Vogue cover at just 16. She was rail thin, and looked like a beautiful angelic alien creature to the fashion industry. But then in 2007, she walked the Chanel show in a denim bikini shocking one anonymous editor in particular:

“I almost didn’t recognize her,” says the editor, who confesses she was aghast. Compared to the other ultraskinny models, Ward looked as if she had gained 10 to 15 pounds, “big, almost bloated.”

Coco Rocha has said that when she weighed 108 pounds, at 5’10”, clients told her to lose weight. So how much can Ward have weighed at that show? 120 pounds? And that is, according to the industry, “big, almost bloated.” A photo agent who worked with Ward said that for every model with staying power, there are twenty who don’t make it past age 18 — that time when girls become women, and grow breasts and hips, and gain the weight that is a natural part of growing up.

“It’s an image-driven industry that doesn’t take kindly to the girl who bucks the trend. Clients start saying, ‘She’s fat now, don’t book her!’ If you want to be cynical about it, looking that way was her job. She doesn’t want to do what it takes, she’s not going to get work. That’s just the way it is.”

Except doing what it takes to not gain the natural weight most of us gain is starving oneself, or resorting to dangerous weight-loss methods like diuretics or drugs. But Ward could not grow up and gain the curves nature intended. There had to be a reason:

In the aftermath of Ledger’s death, Ward retreated further from the fashion world. The supermodel put on a more noticeable amount of weight and gossips began to surmise that his death had been the trigger for her so-called “emotional eating.”

Another anonymous source offered:

“Gemma’s torn. In the last few years [her weight gain] was very much her f–k you to the industry. She’s rebelling by putting on 30 or 40 pounds, so now going back isn’t a straightforward option.”

Yes, any model’s weight gain past the old, old age of 18 must be emotional eating or rebellion. For many women, natural adult weight gain is hard enough to accept without doing it in the public eye. We can’t help but think of what casting agent James Scully said this week about Karlie Kloss: “We all love her today, but when she grows breasts and she turns 18, are we all going to turn on her?”

Gemma Ward, A Supermodel Betrayed [Page Six Magazine]

The Fashion Industry’s Disturbing View of Gemma Ward’s Weight Gain