Cara Delevingne Quit Fashion for a Blunt Reason

August 20th 2015

Laura Donovan

Cara Delevingne is only 23, but she feels old. She faults her modeling career, which she has decided to end after many trying years on the job.

“I am not doing fashion work any more, after having, like, psoriasis and all that stuff,” the "Paper Towns" actress said in a recent interview with London's Sunday Times magazine. “Modeling just made me feel a bit hollow after a while. It didn’t make me grow at all as a human being. And I kind of forgot how young I was … I felt so old.”

Delevingne, who signed with Storm Model Management at age 17 and went on to have a successful career representing many big brands, suffered immense stress and anxiety from all the travel and demands of the work, and her consequent health condition impacted the way others treated her.

"People would put on gloves and not want to touch me because they thought it was, like, leprosy or something,” she said. “I was, like, fight and flight for months. Just constantly on edge. It’s a a mental thing as well because if you hate yourself and your body and the way you look, it just gets worse and worse.”

The British celebrity also felt uneasy about some of the sexual poses she was asked to do during her modeling stints. As a woman who got into modeling at a young age, she feels this could have negative consequences.

“I am a bit of a feminist and it makes me feel sick,” she said. “It’s horrible and it’s disgusting. [We’re talking about] young girls. You start when you are really young and you do, you get subjected to… not great stuff.”

The good news for Delevingne and her fans is that she is finally focusing on her true love: acting. The actress stars in the recently released "Paper Towns," an onscreen adaptation of Young Adult writer John Green's popular book. Back when she signed with Storm Models in 2009, she said acting was her true love, "I enjoy modeling, but my passion is acting, that's what I want to do."

This isn't the first time the actress has spoken out against the modeling world. In May, she divulged to the Wall Street Journal that it is horrible to live in a world where others can order you to slim down.

"I'll get a call from someone saying, 'So-and-so says you were partying a lot and you were looking this way and you need to lose weight,'" she told the publication. "It makes me so angry. If you don't want to hire me, don't hire me."

Other famous people have spoken out against fashion industry sexism

Earlier this month, United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson teamed up with British Vogue to call out sexism and a lack of diversity in the fashion industry. Watson, who launched HeForShe in 2014 to promote gender equality and discussed this campaign at the United Nations in September, says that she would like to see better representations of women and men alike in fashion. Watson made news last year after speaking out for gender equality at the U.N.

"I want to get this conversation, this dialogue, happening specifically within the fashion industry, to ask the leading voices about gender equality," Watson said. "I have big hopes for gender equality in the fashion industry. I think it's really improving. I've seen some very positive steps towards equality in the industry, but I think there's still a lot of racism, I think there's still a lot of sexism. I'd really, really love to see a more diverse representation of women and men in any way that makes them feel empowered."

In Watson's video, various designers came forward to discuss sexism in fashion.

Fashion designer Jonathan Saunders, a self-proclaimed feminist, said it is up to the industry to produce photos that send a good message to all women.

"I think it's a big subject about how women are portrayed through imagery in fashion, that is where we need to be really careful with the images that we produce, that it's something that empowers women instead of making them look weaker or more fragile," Saunders said. "And I think that's something we all need to be more conscious about."

Sexism in other areas of the entertainment world

Unfair treatment of women, unfortunately, isn't limited to the fashion industry. Late last month, Delevingne was widely criticized for not seeming bubbly or friendly enough during a promotional TV appearance for "Paper Towns." During the segment, she gave clipped answers to the interviewers, who called her "Carla," asked an obvious question about whether she'd read "Paper Towns" prior to working on the film, insinuated she was tired, and ended the interview early before telling her to take a nap and drink some Red Bull.

"She was in a mood," said one host.

“You make $5 million for six weeks of work, you can pretend to talk to ‘Good Day Sacramento’ with some ‘oomph’!” another host quipped.

Green took to Medium to defend Delevingne, saying she'd been asked that question many times before while her male co-star had been asked when, not if, he'd read "Paper Towns."

"I spent more than a month with her on tour in Europe and the U.S., and I watched as again and again, she was asked this question," Green wrote. "Cara has read the book (multiple times), but the question is annoying — not least because her male costar, Nat Wolff, was almost always asked when he’d read the book, while Cara was almost always asked if she’d read it. In the past two months, I’ve done something like 300 on-camera interviews. As you get asked the same questions again and again, you develop rote responses as a way of protecting yourself. The rote responses are true — the cast really was like a family; we really are all still friends — but in the repetition, the answers start to feel less and less honest."