Eating Disorders Association
My patronage of the Eating Disorders Association began when I created a documentary for the BBC on the growing trend of thin models in the mid nineties. I interviewed designers who didn't think there was a problem, models who were eating cotton wool and honey, and the visionary treatment centre directer Dee Dawson of Rhodes Farm. The film - a' Special' in that it was much longer than the other features within the Clothes Show that week unsettled many of the 13m viewers who tuned in and sparked considerable debate.
My follow up feature for the Clothes Show Magazine which had a huge circulation also, got the message out there. Unachievable body ideals promoted by fashion are not endorsed by all of us in fashion.
I found myself being interviewed in The Daily Mail, and invited on to daytime shows to discuss it. I was after all an insider who had broken rank with protocol. I had criticised my own industry very publicly.
As a result I was contacted by the Eating Disorders Association to become a patron and to speak on the subject of fashion and body image on a regular basis. During one fundraiser featuring top model Karen Moulder, chef Gary Rhodes and up and coming actress, now household name, Keeley Hawes, we proved the point that fashion could be for everyone. I worked with Cheif executive Nicky Radcliff and actor Anthony Andrews, also a patron, for many years to create awareness of eating disorders and in the process met many young women who were battling with the illness. Their hope was the same as mine, that young women could be prevented from becoming addicted to punishing dietary regimes by understanding that fashion was not promoting happiness but a fantasy of femininity.
The Eating Disorders Association would be rebranded as BEAT (Beat Eating Disorders) and under the stewardship of another chief executive Susan Ringwood, would engage in a more progressive relationship with media. Susan and I met at London Fashion Week and again at various events. As a result, Erin O'Connor, Debra Bourne and I decided to form All Walks Beyond the Catwalk.