Ralph Lauren fires photo-chopped model for being too big

Picture 2.jpgFilippa Hamilton, the model who Ralph Lauren's ad people crudely photoshopped, is looking for work. Ralph Lauren fired her, she said in an appearance on NBC's Today show this morning, due to her inability to fit into his clothes.

She's 5'10" and 120 lbs.

Update: NY Daily News has a statement from the company:

Polo Ralph Lauren said in a statement Tuesday night that Filippa is a "beautiful and healthy" woman but their relationship ended "as a result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract with us.

In the same piece, reported by Carrie Melago, her lawyer says that he fears Ralph Lauren's treatment of Hamilton "will be extremely damaging to her."


  1. who said she had those dimensions, out of curiosity? If those are the ones listed on her comp card, then i guarantee they are not correct. You can’t get jobs unless your comp card has certain measurements or less listed on them, although models can and do still work with different (read larger) dimensions. In unaltered photos, she does not appear to be thin enough to have those dimensions. I am definitely not calling her fat, just mentioning that there is another layer of deception afoot here.

    1. I believe her dimensions. I’m 5’5″ and 113lbs. don’t let the bra throw you. we have padding.

  2. That was what she said in the Today Show interview. Also in the NYDN piece.

    The issue here is not whether or not she actually meets whatever standards they have, it is the existence of the standards themselves and, most of all, the stupidity and callousness of how Ralph Lauren apparently executes them. Legal nastygrams and pink slips for everyone!

  3. To prevent further speculation, isn’t it time someone discloses the “obligations under her contract”?

    1. “One wonders if Mr. Lauren realizes he is supposed to be designing clothes for HUMAN BEINGS.”

      Have you seen the people who fit into his clothes? I believe some of them only barely qualify.

  4. Wow, I am 5’2” and weigh the same, though perfectly healthy and quite slim, apparently fat according to Ralph Lauren.

    Just checked BMI calculator, at 5’10” and a 120 lbs, she is considered underweight.

    Nice message they’re sending!

  5. I’m taking this with a grain of salt until someone actually does some real research here. Right now I see a disgruntled employee lobbing accusations at her former employer, and people automatically assuming what she’s saying is true because she’s become a martyr for people insisting the fashion industry is pushing unrealistic body images on society.

    Isn’t it possible RL had some other reason to terminate her that had nothing to do with her size?

    1. Isn’t it possible RL had some other reason to terminate her that had nothing to do with her size?

      Her image is probably too closely tied to the Great Photoshop Flap of ’09, which execs want to be forgotten as soon as possible. Which in itself is a sick and disloyal way to treat an employee. (Let’s face it, she didn’t shoop that picture.)

    2. I’m taking this with a grain of salt until someone actually does some real research here.

      I’m taking you with a grain of salt until you do your own.

      Isn’t it possible RL had some other reason to terminate her that had nothing to do with her size?

      Maybe like a giant exercise in CYA (pre-emptive action) initiated after they got caught monstrously disfiguring her image (which could affect her career and which RL might be liable for if it such extreme retouching was outside her contract)?

        1. And your point is?

          My point: This is a non-story. Making it appear as if she was fired for the flap over the recent story is Fark material.

          1. Making it appear as if she was fired for the flap over the recent story is Fark material.

            if you got that from this story then you are a prime Fark reader.

  6. She has worked for RL since she was 14. I am sure that they had her comp card at the ready and were well aware of her dimensions.
    She was not told directly by RL that she was too big. She reported her agent told her they were letting her go because “I could no longer fit into their clothes”.

  7. Dear Boing-Boing,

    Thank you for sticking with this Ralph Lauren story and making me appreciate “Ugly Betty” even more!

    — MrJM

  8. Just saw this news on MSNBC, which showed this Photoshopped image with no indication that it’s not real.

  9. Years ago, I was 5’6″ and 120 lbs. You could see bones jutting from my hips and collar. It didn’t look quite right. I can’t even imagine what someone 5′ 10″ would look like at 120 lbs.

    Also, if a thin model can’t fit into his clothes, then who can? How do designers make any money when the majority of people can’t fit into their clothes? I’m not saying most American’s couldn’t stand to lose some weight, but that doesn’t mean we should all become anorexic either.

  10. Actually she looks about 5′ 10” and 125 to me (I had the same measurements as she did two years ago and that was about my weight) but I’d say this is deeper than her being fat. She’s getting “old” too.

    Hope she gets a good gig out of it, she deserves it. That’s a shit industry to work in.

    1. Meanwhile, the French are working to ban too-thin models in their fashion industry.

      Now that’s just sick too. Can you imagine the uproar if someone tried to put an upper limit on models so the overweight couldn’t set a bad example?

      Real women come in all kinds of sizes, from very thin to very fat. All of them should have an equal right to strut down catwalks wearing overpriced clothing and vapid expressions.

  11. Why should we automatically believe the fired model?

    I’m not saying that she’s lying, because I have no idea, but I also have no idea whether she’s telling the truth. A little skepticism is in order whenever anyone says anything extremely bad about anyone else, and this qualifies.

    And on another note, I hope I’m not being rude here, but to Rose Bush: I think the proper etiquette is to link to the article about karl lagerfeld, rather than to your blog.

    1. No, that is a little rude. Who died and left you link cop? A little skepticism is in order when an industry giant gets caught in a flagerant publication scandal and quickly tries to cover it up by canning anyone near it. Perhaps they were upset that she wasn’t keeping quiet about it or her her 120 lbs.

  12. So comp cards ask for impossibly skinny women who have stomachs thinner than their necks? Weird industry.

  13. As a top model for RL she made Millions perpetuating the starved look to fit into his clothing. She was part of the problem not the solution too bad so sad she lost her job. She should now take her money start a campaign to teach the “normals” that xylophone ribs are not healthy nor sexy.

    1. As long as we’re telling other people how to live their lives, I think she should become a biochemist and discover a cure for cancer while working in her spare time to facilitate a manned mission to Mars.

      1. Holy non sequitur Batman! If she was a biochemist who believed that cells where little tiny rocks that ate candy then maybe she should go out and apologize to the science world, as it is/was she was a bony model who’s body dysmorphic appearance affects millions of teens self esteem.

        1. So you’re looking more for penance for offending your sensibilities rather than making a plea to improve the world?
          That’s OK I guess, even though I do not share that feeling.

        2. demidan, I know what “body dismorphic disorder” is, but what’s a “body dismorphic appearance?” She modeled in the body she has, and for all we know she’s naturally skinny. Attacking her simply for having that body is just as shallow and callous as attacking a fat person for their body type.

          I agree the fashion and entertainment industries are way too obsessed with skinny people. But they’re obsessed with breasts too- that doesn’t mean it’s OK to criticize a model or actress for coming out of puberty with a pair of double Ds.

          1. Ok so i coined a phrase.”body dismorphic appearance” : how a physical body conforms to an imaginary or unhealthy figure i.e. 5’10” and 120lbs. Or the physical representation of body dismorphism.

            I lazily extrapolated/morphed a mental illness into it’s logical physical conclusion.

          2. demidan: again, there’s nothing “imaginary” about this woman. Unlike her digitally manipulated photo she actually exists, and she models in the body she has. For all we know she is physically healthy. Asking her to “apologize” for the sin of being tall and thin is just as callous as asking a short heavyset woman to apologize for the way she looks.

            The fashion industry is guilty of focusing on a very narrow subset of body types to the exclusion of everybody else. That doesn’t mean that there is something inherently wrong with the skinny models, it means that the magazines should try broadening their view to include more shapes and sizes.

      2. As long as we’re telling other people how to live their lives, I think she should be given some soup and a sandwich and then she should go to my quarters.

  14. Frankly I am appalled how Ralph Lauren’s harmless little fascination with big heads has been turned around into promoting an unhealthy and unrealistic image of the female body.

    Listen, just because some guy has a thing for bulbous giant heads is there’s no reason to go after him. Have some sympathy.


  15. drew3000: I’m all for skepticism on both sides. Actually, it now sounds as though you’re saying that she wasn’t fired for her size, but to cover up the scandal. Either way, I prefer a little more evidence. It’s ok with me that you don’t.

    As far as who died and made me cop, I hope that no one did. Last job I’d want. On the other hand, if you’ll just read all those words above the box where you type your comments, you’ll see that some of them are:

    “Link to your website only on your profile page.”

    Up to you, of course.

  16. I think many people are missing a key point here: She was fired IN APRIL. Ralph Lauren didn’t fire her just now because of the photo. She’s coming out to talk now probably because when the photoshop embarrassment hit, every talk show under the sun started calling her agent(s)-slash-PR people to get her on their talk show.

    Why shouldn’t she milk the free publicity?

  17. Fired in April?

    Am I glad I didn’t make my “ZOMG Xeni got her fired!!!” post. Because that would look really silly. Can I make a “ZOMG Xeni rescued her career” post now?

  18. Ok, so they fired her in April due to the same neurosis that prompted them to do the horrible photoshop job. It what way does this not make RL a douche? I hope that Filippa is launched into supermodel status from this. I would certainly hire her if I were in the business, especially if she gained a few pounds. Can we get a shot of her for the Sports Illustrated soft pron, I mean swimsuit edition bending over to moon RL?

    I spent $400 clothes shopping this past weekend (I was long overdue) and RL products were ubiquitous (and this was in Men’s big and tall.) I’ve never cared for them or bought any of their stuff before, but I definitely steered well clear of their stuff now and always will.

  19. I’m confused. She’s not a fit model. She’s an ad model. They can put her in any size clothes they want. They can tailor the clothes to fit her. That’s what fashion shoots are all about. Last I checked, Ralph Lauren sells clothes in a range of sizes– at least that’s what I have seen at the thrift shop. It can’t be her size (I refuse to believe this) she looks fantastic in his jeans and sweaters. Maybe she cut her hair short or got a nose ring or lost her front teeth or developed really bad acne or got pregnant!

  20. I’d feel worse for her if she were losing out on work she needed, like many other models do. Filippa Hamilton’s already a freakin’ countess for one, and with the European Vogue covers she’s done, another house will pick her up in no time.

  21. Wanted: Model for Ralph Lauren clothes. Must be 5’10” and weigh no more than 60 pounds.

  22. OFFS is all I can say to this.

    I’m interested in the juxtaposition of this with the reaction to a recent photo in Glamour:
    [Warning: possibly NSFW; it appears to be a nude photo (she’s actually wearing underwear), but carefully posed so that nothing is really showing. Definitely on the sexy side though.]


    We’re so messed up about body image in this country.

  23. Well, ASSUMING she was fired for the reason she claims, then that’s a legitimate reason. Part of a model’s job is to look the way their employer wants. In fact, that’s pretty much the entire job.

    The fact that that is what RL wants is pretty crazy, but that’s a separate issue, isn’t it? The industry has collectively decided that clothes look best on people of a certain body type – very tall, and very thin. Whether they’re right or wrong is entirely subjective. If they had a wider range of models, I guess it would be easier to guess what the clothes would actually look like on the rest of us, but I suppose that’s not what they want, any more than a fast food commercial shows average examples of their sad products, rather than carefully crafted ones.

    As for whether they have a MORAL obligation to combat “impossible standards,” maybe they do. But I don’t know – do many people actually find them to be the ideal? They aren’t supposed to be sex objects, they’re supposed to be attractive clothes hangers.

  24. Inspite of eating like there’s no tomorrow my daughter is 5’5″ and weighs 103 and is 15, plus she looks all gangly and well way way too thin, ethiopian starving thin! Ralph Lauren and Co are idiots! Besides that photo chop picture looks rediculous, normal size head on a freaky weird skinny body.

  25. Has anyone seen the original design sheets? They tend to draw clothes made for Grey Aliens then look for people to fit them. The idea of thinking about the human that migth wear the clothes seems secondary at best to designers. The clothes are all that matters.

    Whatever. this is a company that suggests $90 to retailers as the price for a white t- shirt with “ralph Lauren” on it. That alone show the contempt they have for the average person.

  26. I heard she’s found work as a ‘plus size’ model, so all ends well in this best of all possible worlds.

  27. I’d bashed Ralph Lauren in the first thread. The photoshop was awful and the legal threat was uncalled for. However, I’ve got to stand by them on this part. Firing her for not meeting their criteria for models is fine. If she doesn’t have the look they want, they shouldn’t employ her. It’s not like they fired her from a position where looks don’t matter because of her looks. Looks are the number one job requirement when you’re a model.

    We wouldn’t be mad at a record company for firing a singer who couldn’t sing well or at an auto repair shop for firing a mechanic who couldn’t fix cars well. It shouldn’t be any different for the fashion industry. We shouldn’t let our feelings about weight issues get in the way of defending a business’s right to hire and fire people who don’t meet their standards.

    I agree that the model’s weight doesn’t sound fat at all in comparison with average, even thin, women. She’s a lot thinner than I am. But she’s a model. The bar is set higher. Being average or even a little above average doesn’t really qualify you to do things at a professional level, especially at the level required to work for a top-tier company. It seems Ralph Lauren has an extremely hard weight standard to achieve to some average sized women, but in the fashion industry, especially at the highest levels like Ralph Lauren, being very thin just a part of the job.

    Also, I don’t know about the women’s wear, but in their men’s wear lines, they offer a wide range of big and tall sizes. I buy lots of Ralph Lauren for my husband and one of the reasons is that he’s a very large man and needs sizes that are unavailabe or hard to find in many other brands. While their ad campaigns may feature super thin models, their expectations of real-world people’s bodies are pretty inclusive, moreso than lots of other premium brands.

    1. We wouldn’t be mad at a record company for firing a singer who couldn’t sing well or at an auto repair shop for firing a mechanic who couldn’t fix cars well.

      She had signed a contract with them. Unless her appearance has changed radically since that time then I don’t see how your analogy holds up.

      1. One of the posters above said she had been a model for RL since she was 14. That seems to have given her plenty of time for her appearance to change.

  28. karengeir You can’t get jobs unless your comp card has certain measurements or less listed on them…
    Point taken. The problem then is that the designers would aspire to hire models that look like Dachau survivors, not that they think that Dachau survivors are STILL too fat.

  29. I think that too many people think fashion as worn by models really has anything to do with fashion as the clothing that one actually wears. And I think we’d all be happier as Western Society as soon as we stop and realise it has nothing to do with clohtes. Runway fashion is about textile art and the models are just walking hangers meant to display the flow and movement of the pieces. That’s why the runway models are all ridiculously tall and thin, they need to not be overwhelmed by the fabric nor compete with the lines of the fabric. Almost no one could actually wear any of that stuff on the streets anyway (except perhaps Bjork), the pieces get translated into looks you could wear. (with the exception of the ball gowns which show up at awards shows)

    What I wish is that that more designers would actually design their upper size clothes for the upper sizes and not just take stuff cut for flat chested skinny girls and increase the seams by X inches. I could care less if the models need to get to a cheeseburger factory stat. I just want clothes to look as good on me as they possibly can. I only feel bad about it when they don’t because someone can’t imagine that a person with boobs might not want to show everyone what colour bra she’s wearing today.

  30. He might have the right to fire her because he chooses to make his samples for abnormally underweight people. But the standards are what I would complain about. This sample-size shrinkage reflect a peak shift interpretation of thinness that is become a competition and which has gotten out of hand.

    Reversing the trend and returning to thin but normal on the runway – I don’t know when or if that will happen – it is a matter of fashion. But it IS out of hand. I’d like to see samples made for a woman who is in the thin but normal range.

    (I’m a runway size 2 and a store size zero, myself, but I’m only 5’7″ and I confess otherwise unsuited to be a model of anyone’s anything)

  31. Actually, I think the bizarre image on the left makes sense if you realize this ran in Tokyo. It looks like a hideous live action version of a shojo manga character. Just missing the eyes the size of dinner plates.

  32. I previously remarked that RL carries a pair of sunglasses I liked. Since then, I’ve found a nicer pair at less than half the cost. I also have a pair of Polo hiking boots in my closet. I think I’ll give them to Goodwill and wear a different brand from now on. Maybe something with more class.

    It is tempting to point out how annoying the simpering old queens of the fashion industry are, but I’m sure we’re all aware of it. As long as those leeches are allowed to survive among us, you can expect to continue seeing beautiful young girls sinking into anorexia, bulimia and a host of mental disorders thanks to those leeches’ influence on fashion and media.

    Hang the designers and let the women be free.

  33. I don’t have much to add to what’s been said above except that it’s important to note that when Hamilton was asked by Ann Curry explicitly whether she would sue Ralph Lauren for firing her, she said she wouldn’t. If she was indeed egregiously wronged–fired despite not changing in size at all–then presumably she would have clear grounds for a wrongful termination suit, one perhaps made even more powerful by all the recent publicity. As usual, then, the details are no doubt more complicated than they’ve appeared in NYDN and on The Today Show (which, of course, should surprise no one).

    As has been mentioned above (quite astutely), the firing last April should be kept separate from the deeper and more troubling issues concerning body image on the runway and in print and how distorting and damaging that image can be. That a representation like the now infamous RL ad could even make it out of production does, I think, say something telling about a whole bunch of people’s remarkable insensitivity to actual, normal bodies.

    1. If she was indeed egregiously wronged–fired despite not changing in size at all–then presumably she would have clear grounds for a wrongful termination suit

      I think it’s outrageous she was fired for no longer having the body of a 14 year old.

      That a representation like the now infamous RL ad could even make it out of production does, I think, say something telling…

      That the CONTRACT she signed could even make it out of their legal department is rather telling as well.

  34. This story just gets stranger and stranger… Suffice it to say, Ralph Lauren employs some of the worst PR staff on the planet.

  35. Lagerfeld is a “class act”… *rolls eyes*
    Here’s what he said earlier in the year about Heidi Klum and Seal:

    Needless to say His stuff has been off my list for a while anyway. I’ve also seen what a lot of these designers wear and their appearances themselves… I’m with pinehead… why can’t we just wear whatever we want and not be mocked? Why can’t we be our natural weight and be comfortable in our own skin? Sigh… :( I wish these things weren’t an issue in society.

    1. We CAN wear what we want. Seriously. I don’t buy clothes from designers like this and I won’t. I’d rather wear something I made myself or something somebody else made nearby. It costs less than most designer clothes to have something made for you, actually. Besides when you put your own outfits together you get to use your own creativity which is where the best innovation happens anyway. Forget “seasons” and “in-style” and learn to look for interesting patterns, shapes, colors. It doesn’t take that much. It sure didn’t take that much to come up with that *brilliant* plaid shirt and jeans combo RL has up there. Yeah, that’s fashion genius right there… same old same old.

  36. Mr Lauren will not hire a “fat” model to advertise his clothes but I am sure he has no problem taking a “fat” persons money. Kind of a double standard don’t ya think.

  37. As a design professional I could tell you FIRST LOOK that the image had been manipulated (poorly, I might ad). The proportions are way off. Hey, if you are going to fake it, at least do a good job at it. What a bunch of hacks.

  38. Anyone who thinks these pitiful girls are beautiful is SICK. Ralph LAuren must be too “cheap” to afford the material for making his clothing line. SHAME on him and any others like him. Normal sized girls should be the example. We are not a world of “Barbie dolls” and this is how so many young women have been hurt for the rest of their lives. These models look like they just left a concentration camp.

  39. This seems to go against the grain, but I’m a lot more concerned with the huge portion of the American public that’s overweight, and the culture and economics that promote that, than with the relatively tiny portion who are unhealthily skinny.

    The reason it makes much more sense, in context, for France to try to regulate the weight of models is because Europeans don’t have a massive, endemic problem with obesity – quite the opposite.

    We (in the US) don’t need to be telling people it’s alright to be fat, and that there are all sorts of shapes and sizes of people that are all beautiful (*gag*), we need to be telling them to get off their asses and eat some celery.

    1. we need to be telling them to get off their asses and eat some celery.

      Celery is high in sodium. That’s a straight road to fat ankles.

  40. Hmmm. Many, many pounds (and several medications that caused weight gain) ago, I was 5’10” and 130 pounds. People thought I was anorexic and kept trying to feed me.

  41. The essence of this story, as I understand it, is that Ms. Hamilton chose to lose her job rather than starve herself. I, for one, will hoist a glass of Hershey’s Syrup in her honor.

  42. personally, i think the dimensions that most models must strive to fit are freakishly alien and unhealthy looking. the greater lot of humans dont look like models, thusly making them freaks and its upsetting to know that an everyday looking girl is striving to match that archetype. within the fashion realm, i like what dov charney has done with his… Read More models for american apparel. there is alot of argument over them not being pretty enough to be models but i beg to differ. they are average women, they are normal looking girls, and that makes them so much more sexy than some freak that everyone is trying to be. i can really appreciate a normal looking woman over some freak model with superlative looks. plus they are all out of my league and that has a lot to do with my opinion :)

  43. Wow. What a fascinating culture we have. There are people in the world who are literally starving and we are fixated on whether a woman who gets paid to play dress up is too skinny…blah blah blah. I say she should use the money she earned to take herself and a bunch of homeless kids to McDonald’s and go crazy! But not Morgan Spurlock crazy.

  44. I highly recommend that Ralphie Boy Lauren apply to the Diamond Match company for his next models. They have all the proper proportions, large head, same dimensions from the neck all the way down, flat chest and butt. And they’d totally fit his clothes…

  45. I think for many observers, it’s the broader implications that are of most interest here.

    Regardless of whether we have total knowledge of Lauren’s contractual or legal obligations to this particular model, as consumers we have we have every right to demonstrate dislike, or disdain, for the company’s ad campaigns and practices.

    Hopefully the message that the majority of women would appreciate a fashion industry that personifies less absurd notions of beauty will get translated.

    The most effective method: company revenues.

  46. they fired her in april but still use her in ads why not put new model in the ads i guest they love photoshopped model and she said she will not change her diet when she go back to work that crazy she need to give up on late night pizza ralf says he still use her past image in ads that crazy too

  47. Modern interpretation of weight: 5 percent over weight = Obese, 5 percent under weight = anorexic.

    5′ 10″ and 125 lb is a little underweight. So what? For a model, underweight is normal, just in case no one has ever noticed.

  48. There are corrupt institutions in the Republic. Congress. Universities. Lamestream Media. The Fashion Industry.

    When society as a whole or some concerned subset sees this, there are a couple choices.

    Puritans from purify wanted to reform the Church of England.

    The Reformation decided to break loose from the Catholic Church and create their own institution.

    The question is: Is the whole institution so corrupt and nasty and anti-truth that purifying it is out of the question?

    I’d say the Fashion Industry meets that standard.

    So, its time for a replacement. Give it a name, a manifesto, and a viewpoint, and then promote it.

    “Do you want to be a Stick or do you want Style?”
    “Is it about the Clothes, or about You?”
    Then show a contrast and comparison between a po-faced anorexic model, and a luscious lady in a gown made for her that makes you look at the woman and not the clothes.

    The previous commenter who noted how adding X inches to a dress designed for a stick doesn’t really help normal woman should be a key part of the Style Design Movement.

    And cause I’m a guy…another key part is to make the dresses and such be aimed to be attractive to guys.

    Run an add with a tired looking RL, and a vital and handsome football player, and the question…”Which guy do you want to ask you to dance?”


  49. The weight/height ratio is correct for runway models.

    So is firing due to weight.

    A model needs to fit in a size 8 dress or less. The size 8 dress is what is built for the runway models, and is the ‘industry standard.’ They can size the dress less with pins and tape, but the taller the model the better the dress looks, so a tall woman who can fit a size 8 gets the job.

    Years ago my GF did runway modeling (for a well known national company) because naturally she was 98lbs at 5’9″ (she was 17 at the time.) She became pregnant, and they said she was allowed to only gain 20 lbs (while pregnant) or they would cancel her contract. She choose to keep the baby, leave, and have a natural birth.

    Her natural weight, like this model, is low. Unlike most of the women she worked with she didn’t have to use drugs or refrain from eating. When I met her she was up to 125lbs and could down the 20oz steak, all the veggies and potatoes I cooked her on her second date. After our daughter was born her comfortable weight is only 135, which looks fantastic on her.

    Interesting to watch, but the issue has to do with being able to fit in a size 8, and most women 5’9″ or better have a hard time doing it. Some can, so they get the job.


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