Hunger Games Wont Hold Back Brisbane Teen

Sickly skinny models have critics worried, but the pressure doesn’t phase our rising star, Chantal Monaghan.

It’s the ongoing battle of the fashion industry, the controversy surrounding the health of models and the portrayal of what the industry considers as an acceptable, or “perfect”, body image.

Cassi Van Den Dungen on the runway for Alex Perry at the Australian Fashion Week. Image by Attila Szilvasi, Source: The Daily Telegraph
Cassi Van Den Dungen on the runway for Alex Perry at the Australian Fashion Week. Image by Attila Szilvasi, Source: The Daily Telegraph

The fashion industry is one of the harshest in the world, putting a huge amount of pressure on young models, particularly females, in regards to their health and state of mind.

Critics have dubbed the recent Australian Fashion Week the “hunger games”, following the shocking “parade of strutting skeletons” on the runway for Alex Perry.

The Australian designer’s choice to include 2009 Australia’s Next Top Model finalist, Cassi Van Den Dungen, in his show has not only landed him in hot water with critics, it has also alarmed crowd veterans and even Queensland MP, Andrew Laming.

Laming has called for a “more vigilant code of conduct” for designers, agencies and Australian fashion event co-ordinators, wanting a signed agreement that their models would be of a healthy BMI, between 18.5 and 25.

Marie Claire editor, Jackie Frank, has also expressed her concern to reporters telling them “when I saw those legs I nearly died. I rang the model agent and said ‘why is that girl walking down the runway when she’s clearly not healthy?”

Perry has since come out and publically appologised for his ‘serious lapse of judgment’, telling channel Nines Today Show host’s “I’m putting my hand up and saying I did that, that was wrong… It’s the wrong image to present”.

Those in the industry are urged to speak out and put pressure on agencies to promote models of a healthy weight.

In order to get work, international models are faced with the pressures of fitting into extremely small European sample sizes, their body is their work and if they their ‘work’ is not shaped right, they lose their jobs.

Industry sources have told The Daily Telegraph “the onus is on the designers, who need to create bigger sample sizes.”

But according to Brisbane’s aspiring supermodel, Chantal Monaghan, she has never felt pressured to fit into smaller sizes, “the only thing that has been instilled in me is to eat healthy, get lots of rest, drink lots of water and believe in yourself.

I think the industry has changed over the years and become more aware of the many different body types that are acceptable and look good in specific styles.

Chantal’s editorial shot for the Brisbane exhibition races in News Corps, MX magazine.
Chantal’s editorial shot for the Brisbane exhibition races in News Corps, MX magazine.

I do understand why people are concerned for the health of models as we are all different shapes and sizes but I think there is a greater variety of fashions and looks being offered now which cater for all,” she continues.

“Everyone in the world has something unique and beautiful about them to make them who they are and I think the main thing is to promote a healthy lifestyle.”

The 18 year-old had international supermodels declare “war” for the chance to mentor her on the first ever The Face Australia.

“It was amazing being chosen for The Face and a wonderful experience. I feel very fortunate to have been chosen from the many girls that applied.”

Leaving a lasting first impression on the mentors, especially Naomi Campbell and Nicole Trunfio, Chantal had the two fighting over her presence on their teams.

“I got Chantal. I got Chantal”- Naomi Campbell

Choosing “Team Naomi”, Chantal tells The Face she is “determined to build her career and achieve success and longevity in the business”.

Free to use image: Naomi Campbell

She finds the biggest pressures in the industry come from competing for jobs with so many other beautiful girls, however, “the clients usually know what they are looking for and you have to get used to rejection and move on if not chosen for a job.

You have to realise that you may not have been what the client was looking for and it is not a reflection on you personally.”

Chantal’s passion for modeling began at a young age, modeling for children’s brands such as Yaz and Little Workers.

After being scouted in New Zealand at the age of 14, she returned to Australia and was signed with Vivien’s Model Management.

Since then her career has really taken off, modeling for designers such as Camilla in the Australian Fashion Week Sydney and the New Zealand Fashion Week as well as editorial shoots for Girlfriend Magazine and Q weekend Magazine.

Chantal says, “I am so lucky to work with international professionals, it’s such a great opportunity to learn from some of the best. Everyone is very supportive and willing to pass on their experiences and knowledge.”

Being involved in such a demanding industry at a young age takes a toll, especially when you are away from your family and friends, “there are many

early starts and long hours in this industry and you need to keep healthy and get lots of rest to be physically capable of doing a good job.

I have found rejection in the past can make you doubt yourself and your ability but if you can talk yourself out of any negative thoughts and go back and revisit your past achievements then this makes you stronger and more determined to succeed.

I know I just need to keep going and know that there are many more opportunities out there.”

Friends of the local teen say they are proud of all she has accomplished and are excited to see what her future holds.

“I think it is so cool, I am super envious that she’s met Naomi Campbell and walk the catwalk with her” says school friend Imogen Taylor.

Despite the worries of the model industries critics following the Australian Fashion Week debacle, friends believe in Chantal and are not apprehensive about the pressure affecting her health or well-being.

“I’m not concerned about the pressure getting too much for Chantal; she has been in the industry since she was about 4, so I think she has learnt by now how to deal with the pressure in her own way.”

In fact Imogen believes Chantal’s recent exposure to the international industry has been good for her, “I think it has built up her self confidence and has encouraged her to go to castings she might not have tried for before The Face.”

“I have become very adaptable and pick myself up after any disappointments and focus on my next success,” Chantal says.

“I am very determined to succeed and will push on and work hard to make that happen.”

The Face airs on Fox 8 every Tuesday night at 8.30pm.

Last updated April 2014

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