diversity, fashion, Female, models, News Feature, petite, Uncategorized

Why are petite models still ignored in the fashion industry?

When it comes to the fashion industry, diversity is in right now.


Modelling agencies are being pushed to tackle under-representation and celebrate people of all shapes and sizes. Plus-size models are storming the field with Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham appearing in Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Elle. ASOS recently received enormous praise for featuring black plus-size model Vivian Eyo- Ephraim in their swimwear section and Leyna Bloom is campaigning to be the first transgender model to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Being short is not as historically disenfranchised as other groups. The average height for adult women in the UK is 5’4″, yet petite consumers are still inadequately represented in the industry.


There have been attempts to promote pocket-sized fashion with the majority of high street brands including a petite collection which caters for girls 5’3 and under. However Miss Selfridge, Missguided, Next and Zara (to name a few!) are still using 5’9″ models to promote products.


Also, the thirteenth season of America’s Next Top Model which premiered in 2009 ran a competition exclusively for models 5’7 or shorter. Ironically, the winner Nicole Fox was one of the tallest girls in the show and none of the other contestants have gone on to gain work on the runway since.


Some of the world’s most iconic fashion gurus were of petite stature including Elizabeth Taylor 5’2, Marilyn Monroe 5’5 and Twiggy 5’6. Most notably Kate Moss, who could be argued as the most successful model of all time, was largely stigmatised for her standing at 5’6.


Here are some of the petite models struggling to squash the restrictions of modelling worldwide:


Eli Yeung, Model, 5’6, Cambodia.

From #Osaka with Love ❤️❤️❤️ #Canon #EOSm3

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“I do think that this could be the start of a transitional period in the industry. As for now however, the demand is deficient if you do not meet the standard model measurements. As a petite male model, I can only be cast with another petite model due to proportion. Usually a ‘standard’ female model without heels is about the same height as me, if not taller.  Therefore jobs I get are usually solo, advertisements or portraits. For petite models there is a 99.9% chance you won’t be on the runway as they are strictly for the ‘standard’ models, unless you are Kate Moss with a strong personal brand.”


Keanna Bryant, Model, 5’2, New York.

“I have never reached the height requirements for modelling and I have been denied numerous times. People especially tried to discourage me from walking the runway. Mainstream modelling still depicts beauty as tall and slim and petite girls are not considered for high fashion modelling, instead they are pushed into lingerie, swimwear and body part modelling. Six years ago I was the only petite model walking the runway in New York, now more and more petite models are coming out. Hopefully this is a transitional time for the industry.”


Mckenna, Petite Fashion Blogger, USA.

“I think there aren’t enough petite models because we still think that taller people get noticed more. If we put a tall model next to a petite model, the tall model would get more attention just because people are in awe of tall things: buildings/sculptures/people. The bigger/taller the more interesting they are visually. I think the attitude will change when models of all sizes are working together on the runway. In the near future? Probably not. I think that right now it has become engraved that models must be tall and skinny. We’ll get more petite models when we also get more plus sized and normal sized models.”


Bernadette Lemon, Model, 5’4, UK.

“The phrase ‘we use models of all shapes and sizes’ I feel still doesn’t have any relevance. Plus sized models are now being more widely used but petite models are still overlooked unless they are from a well known background. There have been NUMEROUS times where I have turned up to a shoot and the photographer says ‘oh, you’re much shorter than I thought you were.’ Too many people in the business are still focused on measurements and ticking boxes that they kill what modelling and the creative industry is all about. Designers and photographers should choose a certain model because of his or her personality and style rather than taking height over all of that.”


However, it doesn’t seem that the barriers of the modelling world are going to be broken down anytime soon. Jane Elliott, founder of Elliott Brown Modelling Agency said: “I have a huge number of applications from girls under 5’6 but we will only take them on if they are suitable for our work/clients. It just so happens that many clients are looking for taller girls, certainly for clothes, as they tend to ‘see’ the clothes looking better on them and there are not many manufacturers that make clothes for smaller women or men.”


Joanne Lewis, former stylist for ASOS and All Saints said: “I don’t think you will ever see petite women on the catwalks or in high fashion. I also think that with petite brands and sizing being increasingly available, there isn’t so much of a need for it anymore.”


Bernadette Lemon concluded: “The answer is ambiguous as to whether the generic 5’10 chiselled faced model era is coming to an end. Obviously they are still beautiful, but it is becoming even more crucial to show versatility and variation to encourage people to feel confident in themselves. Representing different heights is just as important as different waist sizes.”

Danger, Female, Journalist, Kim Wall, Murder, News Feature, safety, Uncategorized

We need to do more to protect female journalists

 Kim Wall, a Swedish freelance who wrote for The New York Times and The Guardian, was brutally murdered in mid-August. Her mutilated body was found on the coast of Denmark after she interviewed Peter Madsen aboard his homemade submarine. Madsen has recently admitted to dismembering her body but claims Wall died of carbon monoxide poisoning.


Daphne Caruana Galizia, the journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta, was assassinated in October when a car bomb blew her vehicle to pieces. Often described as a “one-woman Wikileaks”, her reporting had made her many enemies, including the Maltese Prime Minister. In an interview with Radio 101, opposition leader Adrian Delia described her death as a “political murder”.


Hala Barakat, an American-born journalist and her Syrian activist mother were stabbed to death in their home in Istanbul in September. It is reported that they were the latest victims of attacks by Islamic State militants.


According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 56 journalists have been killed so far in 2017, and roughly a quarter are women.


A 2016 report from UNESCO revealed that between 2006 and 2013, an average of four female journalists were killed per year; in 2014/15 it was nine and in 2016 the number rose to 13.


Frank Smyth, Founder and Executive Director of the Global Journalist Security programme asserts: “All journalists face risk. But female journalists face both different and at times more intense challenges especially in terms of sexual assault.”


There is a call to do more to keep women journalists safe. London mayor Sadiq Khan expressed his concerns regarding sexual abuse in journalism whilst discussing The Second Source, a recent campaign with the aim of tackling harassment in the media led by a group of journalists including Evening Standard columnist Rosamund Urwin and freelance reporter Emily Reynolds.

In November, Khan said: “The harassment some women journalists have faced in the workplace is appalling- and it is the responsibility of us all to call it out. This needs to be a turning point.”


A 2013 survey by the International Women’s Media Foundation found that 64 per cent of 875 respondents had experienced intimidation, threats or abuse at work, with 46 per cent experiencing sexual harassment and 21 per cent experiencing physical violence. The survey revealed that 76 per cent of journalists did not report assaults to the police or their employers.


Frank Smyth continues: “GJS were among the first to incorporate awareness about sexual assault and the protocols to avoid it. Most assaults are committed not by strangers but by people known to the victims. Peer intervention to stop situations from escalating into sexual assault, and creating a culture of respect across genders is essential to curb assaults whether they are committed in person or online.”


Anna Lundbladh, the Freedom of Media representative for OSCE, the world’s largest regional security organisation states: “Online threats and intimidation are a growing problem across the OSCE regions, with female journalists being specific targets. Therefore, combatting online threats remains top of the agenda.”


“The scale of threats against women in terms of quantity and graphic nature have reached appalling levels, forcing journalists to go offline or to refrain from engaging in journalism altogether. If only one woman resorts to self-censorship, plurality and media freedom suffer,” she continues.


A 2014 Pew Research Centre survey found that 25 per cent of women aged 18-24 had experienced sexual harassment online and 23 per cent had been physically threatened.


Daily Post Wales editor Sarah Hodgson points out that she has also received threatening messages via social media and phone calls to the newsroom: “With the digital age anybody can find out your Facebook, Twitter, phone number and email address.”


Ms. Hodgson also revealed several occasions in which she found herself in unsafe situations: “Myself and a female photographer attended an armed siege. We were cornered by people screaming in our faces and trying to take our camera. The police watched on and did nothing.”


“On another occasion I was visiting a Gypsy site where they had set up caravans on a business park. I was cornered by a number of teenagers who surrounded my car and began to kick it and smash the windows,” she recalls.


Hodgson commented: “I would like to see reporters not sent out on their own- however with dwindling press budgets and staffing levels this is getting increasingly hard”.


“Reporters need to report incidents to the police- something which I am guilty of not doing as I felt they would not be able to do anything and they wouldn’t take it seriously,” she concludes.


Jennifer Hyman, Communications Director for the IWMF suggested a “check in protocol with newsrooms, family and friends in which people are informed where a reporter is going and expect a check-in to ensure they are okay. Employers and relatives should have an emergency response plan ready for them to act if a check-in is absent.”


The Global Journalist Security programme provides journalists with Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT), which aims to improve situational awareness, giving journalists valuable self-defence skills and putting them through challenging scenarios to practice how to respond if something dangerous happens.


HEFAT training ranges from 2-day refresher sessions to comprehensive 5-day courses. GJS employ former rape crisis counsellors, mental health experts and personal safety trainers. The programme also works with digital safety and Internet freedom experts to conduct online safety workshops.


Frank Smyth concludes: “We cannot guarantee absolute safety, the best we can do is help trainees mitigate risk. Our ethos is to encourage trainees to take responsibility for their own security. To learn awareness and avoidance skills to decrease danger and to work with others to help cultivate a culture of security.”

Channel 5, family, Female, Mental health, Reality TV, Religion, Shoreditch, Uncategorized

From the Nunnery to National TV

Channel 5’s latest reality series Bad Habits, Holy Orders aired on October 19. The show sees five twentysomething girls sent to a convent for a month, swapping Instagram and partying for prayers and scripture. During promotion for the show the Daughters of the Divine ran a pop-up café in Shoreditch, called Nundos of course, where customers were served free food and encouraged to open up to the sisters about their life experiences.


In Nundos, I am sat adjacent to Sister Michaela with the majestic backdrop of a faux stained glass window glowing around her somewhat like a heavenly aura. As the 23 year old sat in her black and white robe and wimple looking so angelic, I expected to be told how she had spent her life consumed by religion always knowing her fate would be to give up a family and job in order to devote herself unconditionally to god.


I asked why on earth the sisters allowed TV cameras and five hedonistic girls into their holy community. Michaela asserted: ‘We needed to challenge ourselves, stop hiding behind the walls of our convent and show what nuns are really like, we are fun!’


Michaela spent her childhood in Poland in an underprivileged and secular family with her father and her mother who suffered from severe schizophrenia: ‘I never truly bonded with my mother. She was hospitalised often and my parents had a volatile relationship, I felt like I was being pulled in every direction.’


‘I fell into a bad friendship group and the rebellious teenage years began. Drinking all the time and falling in and out of love. My parents seemed to only care about their own relationships, I thought they were selfish.’


At 15, Michaela decided to take a large dose of her mother’s medication. ‘My life didn’t make sense, I just wanted to get rid of myself.’


Miraculously her overdose had no serious effects on her health but she went back to her rebellious ways. Her father told her she should go to England, away from her influential peers and to a place with more opportunities. ‘I came to England and worked in hotels and factories. I lived a very materialistic lifestyle. All I wanted was money, money!’


‘I had a boyfriend. I thought that another person or material things could fill the hole in my lonely life, but ultimately I knew I was made for more than that.’


After a few years of enduring this unsatisfying lifestyle she was sacked from her job. In despair she decided that there was one last option: ‘I went to a cathedral, knelt down and poured my heart out. ‘Help me!’ I begged. When I’d finished I looked around the beautiful cathedral and felt a sense of majesty. I wanted to live, I wanted to sing! I felt loved unconditionally for the first time. I felt like no matter what I had previously done god loved and forgave me.’


Michaela felt an overwhelming desire to connect with religion further, she desperately wanted to join the sisterhood but thought her past had tarnished the possibility: ‘I thought I had sinned too much. I had offended god and he would never forgive me.’


Weeks later in the same cathedral that she visited every day, she noticed a nun praying in a pew a few rows in front. The nun handed her a leaflet and told her to go and visit the Daughters of the Divine convent. She did and she ‘knew it was home.’


‘For many young people, and myself in the past, self-esteem comes from social media. They don’t know their value or who they really are. It was amazing to see how much the girls learned from the experience and how many people have been coming to Nundos purely out of curiosity and have left feeling uplifted. I have realised there is a great need in the world for something like this, I think we should make it permanent!’


‘We are bombarded with how horrible the world is. It’s not, there is goodness everywhere, we just have to open our eyes to it.’

coffee, Health, Uncategorized

Could a cup of coffee a day really keep the doctor away?


Whether it’s your morning rush of energy or simply enjoying the fruity, smoky smoothness as it settles on your palette, Brits love a good cup of coffee.


With the London Coffee Festival commencing tomorrow and the celebration of all things from lattes to skinny caramel macchiatos, coffee lovers will rejoice to learn that their caffeine fix could in fact be helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.


A  new study led by Professor Hui-Chen Lu from Indiana University has discovered that caffeine is one of the 24 compounds that boost the enzyme NMNAT24 in the brain.


The study, published last month, found that NMNAT24 protects neurons from stress and fights against the proteins called tau, which build up in the brain as plaques. These plaques have been proven to cause neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.


‘This work could help advance efforts to develop drugs that increase levels of this enzyme in the brain and could play a role in future treatment of these debilitating mental disorders,’ Lu said in a press statement released by the university.


Alzheimer’s Research UK states that there are currently 850,000 people suffering in the UK, a 56% increase since 2010/11 and it is predicted that this number will increase to over one million by 2025, with a cure yet to be discovered.


Roger Cook, science manager at the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee said: ‘Whilst the research findings are valuable in providing further understanding of a very unpleasant condition, much more research is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.’


Starbucks regular and student Alissa D’antonio, 20 said: ‘It’s great that scientific research is working to uncover cures and prevention for Alzheimer’s. I drink at least 3 cups of coffee a day but research needs to conclude how much coffee is beneficial and how much can be harmful. I’m a smoker so I have to be wary about my heart rate and other problems associated with stimulants anyway.’


Robin Brisbourne from Alzheimer’s Research UK stated that: ‘The best current evidence from the dementia prevention field suggests that eating a healthy diet, staying mentally and physically active, not smoking and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check are the most effective ways to keep our brains healthy.’


Welsh RNLI coxswain awarded MBE for 30 years’ service

A post shared by RNLI Rhyl (@rnlirhyl) on Aug 22, 2016 at 1:38am PDT


The rough chop of the Welsh sea wades back and forth across Rhyl’s famous seaside sand. The fierce tidal surge we witness from the overlooking window of the lifeboat station provides a stark reminder of the true power of the ocean, something that Martin Jones (right) is all too familiar with.

Martin, 47 sits opposite me with a beaming smile from ear-to-ear as he says: ‘I received a letter in January from the Cabinet Office which said that the Prime Minister had recommended me to The Queen for this award.’

Martin Jones has been part of the Rhyl lifeboat crew for almost 30 years. In December he received the news that he is to be awarded an MBE for his outstanding services to maritime safety. He said excitedly, ‘I thought it was a wind up at first! You usually get these awards at the end of your career, not in the middle, it was a definite surprise.’

Martin began volunteering for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution when he was just seventeen and progressed to the paid positions of mechanic, training coordinator and went on to become the station’s coxswain in 2010. The charity was founded in 1824 and has saved over 140,000 lives. The Rhyl station covers a 55 mile distance from Colwyn Bay to Hoylake which can experience particularly rough seas and cyclonic gales during the winter months.

When asked what attracted him to the lifeboats, smiling once again Martin replied, ‘My grandfather Eric was a tractor driver for the crew, as a child I would come to the station and experience it. I always dreamt that I would work for the lifeboat myself.’

Having been on over 700 call-outs during his time in the crew, Martin can’t possibly have experienced heroic satisfaction all of the time. ‘It is an amazingly fulfilling job, you get some real satisfaction, although you do sometimes have the unpleasant task of recovering bodies.’ Martin reminisces on occasions where he and his crew had to ride 10-foot waves in force ten storms, putting themselves in danger in order to save others.

When I spun the conversation back to the MBE he coyly replied, ‘It’s not my cup of tea I don’t like the limelight, for me I just do my job, but it’s not often you can say you’ve been inside Buckingham Palace.’ Martin was delightfully decorous and evidently shocked by the news of his award.

For Martin he may just be doing a job, but it is definitely far from the average nine-to-five career. Martin began to recall some of the harrowing experiences he has witnessed over his thirty year spin. He stated that he is also part of the National Flood Team and helped to save 74 people during the Cumbria floods in December 2015, including a grandmother and two children whose bungalow was completely flooded. ‘Having two children myself it really did hit home, what might have happened if we hadn’t arrived on time? Being able to save children who have maybe been washed out to sea and hand them back to their parents is the most amazing feeling.’

Martin began to reminisce about the downsides of such a demanding profession. He particularly focused on the struggles and strains his work commitments have on family life. ‘Every single year the pager has gone off on my daughter’s birthday, she’s fifteen. But I have no choice, the lifeboat has to come first and the boat has to go to sea.’ Martin has been married for thirteen years and says that his two children are used to his job-centric lifestyle ‘They have been brought up with it so they understand even though it has been a big strain over the years. They deserve the MBE too!’

Martin then exclaimed, ‘Would you like to come and see the boats?’ Before I knew it I was inside the 55 foot vessel as Martin proudly showed me the complex engine controls and steering gears within his floating kingdom. Observing first-hand the mechanics and on-hold medical equipment inside the boat highlighted how much skill really goes into a lifeboat rescue. Martin explained that it can take twelve to eighteen months to fully train a candidate.

A post shared by RNLI Rhyl (@rnlirhyl) on Jun 12, 2016 at 2:16am PDT


‘We are extremely lucky in Rhyl, we have 30 strong crew members who we can call on anytime. Some are doctors, electricians, doormen and additionally volunteer for the lifeboats, they have to drop everything if the pager goes off. Commitment is incredibly high but I do warn that it will take over your life, and the divorce rate is high!’ Modest Martin insisted that the MBE was an award dedicated to the whole charity and the incredible work completed by the volunteers and employees over the years.

A post shared by RNLI Rhyl (@rnlirhyl) on May 16, 2016 at 1:19pm PDT


Martin pointed out that an array of advancements are soon to arrive at the Rhyl lifeboat station including a £2.2 million Shannon class lifeboat which is the most technologically advanced of its kind and is twice as fast as Rhyl’s current Tamar class boat. He added that a visitor’s centre, training department and a station expansion was also in talks. ‘These new developments will be great for the local schools and educational purposes.’

Martin highlighted that a major issue for the lifeboats is the fact many people are not sufficiently educated on the deadly dangers at sea. He referred to the highly reported deaths of two boys after they were washed ashore on Barmouth beach in 2016, pointing out that this issue has never been more prominent.

Martin Jones finished the interview by saying that he is thoroughly looking forward to what 2017 holds for him and the lifeboat station. He said ‘I always say to people if you have a dream keep going for it, I did and it paid off.’

The interview with Martin was conducted on 5th February 2017 before he received his MBE on 25th March.


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Is this the end of London’s nightlife?

The 1980s saw London’s vibrant nightlife really come alive. The world of disco had arrived bringing with it a pop of neon lights shooting within the dark and mysterious walls that to an outsider looked like a simple building. Volume poured out of the speakers, as the dancefloor burst with expression and people unleashed their revolutionary alter egos, an escape from reality.

A nighttime escape created life shaping moments: people forming lifelong friends, falling in love and welcoming an escapade of new cultures and exhilaration into Britain, this is a staple of London’s iconic nightlife.

Unfortunately, this explosion of club-culture could not stand the test of time. The thirst for partying has slumped over the years, and it has caused apprehension as to what will become of our society if we abandon this incredible nighttime culture.

According to ALMR (the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers) there were 3,144 clubs across the UK in 2005, however this figure has depleted  to 1,733 in 2016, with London as one of the most effected.

On the 16th September, the world-famous Farringdon nightclub ‘Fabric’ was controversially closed after the death of Ryan Browne and Jack Crossley, both 18 as a result of MDMA consumption. This sparked an overwhelming campaign with protestors using the mantra #SaveOurCulture in an attempt to save one of the last remaining nuclei of London’s nighttime culture, and to prevent the 24 hour city dying a drug induced death.

The campaign which raised almost £335,000 to fund Fabric’s legal fees, finally won their case on the 21st November 2016 when a deal was struck with Islington Council to re-open the club which was originally founded in 1999.

Hooray! Some may say. The reopening of Fabric is certainly a start, although it does not ensure the public that this is an end to the rapid decline of London’s nightlife, and the devastating effects it is having on our economy and society.

Dr. Henry Fisher, editor at Volteface Magazine whom explore alternative ways to approach current drug policies in the UK said: ‘The #SaveOurCulture campaign proves that our nightlife is not in total decline, it is important to adopt a different outlook in regards to drugs if the problem is to be well and truly tackled.’

This distinct viewpoint is echoed by Alexios Const, a student representative who worked for Fabric. He said: ‘clubs aren’t contributing to the drug war, electronic music and drugs go hand-in-hand so shutting down clubs won’t put a stop to the problem. A new solution needs to be sought to put an end to this decline.’

Const made the point that clubs such as Fabric and Studio 338 (which closed in August) ‘are representative to us millennials and youth in general and provide a means to express music and culture.’

Over the last eight years London has lost 50 per cent of its nightclubs and 40 per cent of its live music.

Club DJ Jordan Campbell voiced his concerns regarding the ‘dying club culture’ and the effect it is having on today’s DJ and music sector.

‘People are becoming less inclined to DJ due to the lack of clubs, there is simply nowhere to express our musical talent and it is increasingly difficult to establish a long-running DJ career.’

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nichols commented: ‘London clubs produce some of the best musical talent around, they are an integral part of the zeitgeist providing opportunities to learn and break into the music industry.’

Nichols expanded to mention the effect this nightlife decline will have on the UKs economy and society: ‘It is an integral part of the country’s social fabric and crucial economic assets, particularly as drivers of growth in local areas.’

London mayor Sadiq Khan has also been vocal on the issue. In a statement, Khan expressed his disappointment that clubs, councils and the police cannot seem to find a way to keep clubs open and safe.

‘No single organisation or public body can solve these problems alone – we all need to work together to ensure London thrives as a 24-hour city, in a way that is safe and enjoyable for everyone.’

In August, Mr Khan announced he would appoint a ‘night czar’, who would receive a £35,000 salary in exchange for work to boost the city’s night time economy.

In addition, the long-awaited all-night tube service launched on 19 August on the Central and Victoria lines.

Khan said: ‘The night tube is absolutely vital to my plans to support and grow London’s night-time economy.’

The night tube is estimated to boost £360 million over the next 30 years and contribute to creating more jobs and supporting businesses.