The Nutritionist Reshaping the Fashion Industry

 

Because Magazine

The Nutritionist Reshaping the Fashion Industry

 

The beginning of my journey with nutrition, the fashion industry and mental health, can be traced back to when I was scouted and signed to a modelling agency at 15 years old.

It wasn’t until I was 18 that I began to focus solely on modelling – a decision backed by my parents, which I’ll forever thank them for – and, once my birthday came around, my first job took me to LA. I went on to live in New York for a stint. Coming from a town out ‘in the sticks’ of Hampshire, this opportunity was an absolute dream, however, it was while in the Big Apple that I was first exposed to the many sides of modelling that were far from glamorous. Erratic eating behaviours and mental health problems were common amongst very young girls, who were thrown into a lifestyle in which they had to grow up quickly – and without the guidance that they needed. It was at that point that I began to question where their (and my) support system was.

Instagram launched in tandem with that period; with it, came a succession of food ‘grams and supposed ‘superfood’ green juicesfrom the first wave of social media influencers. What really bothered me was that the people giving advice weren’t qualified in any way, shape or form. I decided that I wanted to make a positive change in the fashion world, and so I enrolled on a BSc human nutrition degree recognised by the regulatory body Association of Nutrition, and became an associate registered nutritionist; I wanted to encourage and open a conversation around nutrition in the modelling industry. Fast-forward a few years and the Be Well Collective was born.

 
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At first, people around me were sceptical about the thought of mixing the biochemistry aspect of nutrition with fashion, but I can safely say now that I proved them wrong! There’s a real interest in the science behind wellness.

Seven years ago, the Be Well Collective was a very distant dream but I’m proud to say that this year it’s made unprecedented moves and brought together all London modelling agencies for the first ever. The BWC aims to educate and support both the models and agencies. I hosted a panel of four experts who drove home the message that mental health support from the outset is vital. The panel included Ted X speaker Howard Napper, one of the first male models in the 1980s who tragically lost a lot of friends in the industry to suicide, and who spoke about the lack of any support system, GQ’s Dr Nick Knight, who discussed anxiety, depression and general mental health, Jillian Lavender the founder of the London Meditation Centre, who shared tips on how to refocus your mind and reduce anxiety at any given time, plus a spokesperson from the mental health charity Head Talks. Following the discussion, Dr Nick Knight supplied the girls' survival packages containing notes on all the information we had covered, so they were safe in the knowledge of where to turn to for support.

 

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Sarah Macklin