MUN student frustrated with Eclipse's requirements for models

MUN student Katie Vardy is expressing her displeasure with a St. John's clothing store Eclipse's search for fashion models, which excludes her for being "too curvy."

Katie Vardy says Newfoundland-based company's response is 'garbage'

MUN student Katie Vardy was disappointed with the requirements set out in a poster looking for fashion models for Eclipse clothing. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

A Memorial University student is expressing her displeasure with a St. John's clothing store's search for fashion models that excludes her for being "too curvy."

Katie Vardy, 19, said she first saw the poster searching for models posted on campus and was curious to learn more, as she likes Eclipse and its clothes.

However, when she examined the requirements, Vardy said she was disappointed with what she saw.

"I met the female requirement, and you had to be at least 16, I met the five-foot-seven and taller [requirement], but the one that I didn't meet is the size small and size five in pants," Vardy said. 

Katie Vardy shared a Facebook post asking Eclipse to change their model requirements. The post has nearly 500 shares. (Katie Vardy/Facebook)

Vardy sent an email to Eclipse asking the company to change its requirements for models and posted a copy of the email on Facebook, where it has gotten nearly 500 shares.

She said the company's ideal model is not representative of the company's clientele, adding that the posters could cause problems for those with eating disorders.

"Someone who's struggled with eating, if they see the poster and they're like, 'I'm not small enough' or 'I'm too big,' that's automatically triggering," Vardy said. 

"They could automatically feel that they need to starve themselves for it, or if they're too small, feel like they need to binge eat to fit the clothes, so that's automatically a negative image."

'Certainly can be triggering'

Pamela Ward, a nurse educator at the Centre for Nursing Studies and an adjunct professor at Memorial University, agreed with Vardy, and said that the poster could be a trigger for those suffering body image issues.

"This certainly can be triggering because it reinforces that message that you have to be thin to be accepted," Ward said.

Pamela Ward's research focuses on approaches to body image and eating disorders and disordered eating. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

Ward also said the poster is concerning because of the troubling message it sends to young women and men and its effects on body image.

"There are very few people that fit this particular mould, and it just perpetuates that idea that you have to be thin," she said.

"We're seeing increased rates of body dissatisfaction, increased rates of disordered eating at a rate we've never seen before, and increased rates of eating disorders."

Why not make more options that are available?- Katie Vardy

Vardy said there could be other sizing choices to appeal to models of all sizes.

"Why not make more options that are available? Have one outfit that's a size small, or one outfit that's a medium or a large," she said.

"I think there's so many options besides having the sample clothes a size small."

Eclipse's response 'garbage'

In a statement issued to both Vardy and CBC News, the company said it believes that women come in all shapes and sizes and Eclipse stores carry sizes from XS to XXL.

"However, prior to the clothing arriving in our stores, we receive one sample from our suppliers.  This sample size is size small and size 5 which is the size of our in-house fit model. We have to order the fit size that she requires," the statement read. 

"Given that most of our e-commerce and marketing pictures are taken in advance, we have to use a model that fits into these sizes.  At this time it is not feasible to have a variety of samples fitted to every model's individual size."

The posters seeking fashion models for Eclipse were posted across the Memorial University campus. (John Gushue/CBC)

Representatives from the company also sent CBC News a lengthy explanation of practices, but declined offers for a further interview.

Vardy said Eclipse's email response was "garbage," and that she spoke with another woman who raised similar issues about the posters with the company and received a verbatim email message.

Eclipse said it appreciates customer feedback and hopes Vardy continues to be a loyal customer.

With files from Meghan McCabe