'Holland's Next Top Model' wins agency lawsuit

TOBY STERLING Associated Press Published:

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- A former winner of the television show "Holland's Next Top Model" has won a lawsuit against Elite models after she was dropped for having hips the agency claimed were too large.

The Amsterdam District Court has ruled that Ananda Marchildon, now 25, was entitled to the main prize she won in the 2008 production of the show, a 3-year contract worth €75,000 ($98,500).

Marchildon argued she was dismissed after only €10,000 ($13,000) worth of work because she didn't lose enough weight to please the agency.

According to the ruling, though Marchildon had gained weight since getting the contract, she had a hip measurement of 92 centimeters (about 36.2 inches) when she won, and Elite could not demand that she go down to 90 centimeters -- about 35.4 inches. At a U.S. size 2, that is smaller than the average woman's but not unusual in the modeling world.

Elite spokeswoman Rita Camelli in Milan, Italy, said the agency was considering its options.

"Of course we are pretty disappointed" in the ruling, she said. "We felt we were in the right."

Camelli declined to discuss details of Elite's position.

The published ruling included an email exchange between the 180-centimeter-tall (5 foot, 11 inch) model and a representative of Elite in the Netherlands whose name was redacted.

"We agreed that you would come by us every two weeks for an evaluation, how it's going with your diet and exercise and losing weight. We're going to keep measuring you," the Elite representative wrote.

"Today, March 23 2010, we measured your hips at 98 centimeters. This is a reminder! The goal is that you have a hip circumference of no more than 90 centimeters at the end of June."

Marchildon responded that she would regain her former shape, and not more. "If at the end of the road it appears that unfortunately not enough assignments have come in, that doesn't change the obligations of the contract," she wrote.

The model and agency parted ways in September and Marchildon is now a carpenter. Her lawyer said she would comment later Wednesday.

The court awarded her around €65,000 ($85,000) in damages, plus interest and legal fees.

The fashion industry has often faced criticism for creating unrealistic expectations about women's bodies and forcing models to undergo harmful diets.

Agencies say that they respond to the demands of clients, and ultimately customers: a model that doesn't look right won't get work.

In the Netherlands, underwear company Sloggi hired Marchildon for a one-time shoot Monday to show that she is still fit for modeling work.

"It's too crazy for words that a model who's her size would be written off as too fat," said spokeswoman Monica van Alewijn, saying that Marchildon is thinner today than most models the company uses.

"She's just a beautiful woman, and for heaven's sake she shouldn't starve herself," she said.