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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Lily Cole: Fashion industry needs to change its ideals of beauty

Published 09/06/2014 | 09:21

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Lily Cole attends the VIP preview day of The Chelsea Flower Show at The Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Lily Cole attends the VIP preview day of The Chelsea Flower Show at The Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Lily Cole thinks the fashion industry needs to widen its ideals of beauty.

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The British model was scouted at the age of 14 and has gone on to model for some of the world's biggest fashion houses such as Hermès, Chanel and Christian Dior.

She's since made a move into the world of acting and has been talking about the problems she thinks the fashion industry poses for young women.

"It doesn't trouble me too much from my experience," Lily said of young models working in fashion. "I didn't do very sexualised imagery until I was a bit older. There were some publications such as Vogue, for example, that don't use girls under 16.

"The way we present images in general bothers me. So the way that beauty is understood often as being largely Caucasian and largely young is inherently problematic. And the idea of what is fashionable, of what is hot or not, and that being applied to young girls is also hugely difficult. I know how I was when I was a teenager and how insecure most teenagers are."

Lily is about to tread the boards at London's Shakespeare's Globe theatre, as Helen in The Last Days of Troy.

Playing a character famed for her beauty has got Lily thinking about what it means to wear make-up and nice clothes, which the 26-year-old concedes indicates a sign of her femininity.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02:  Lily Cole attends the launch of her limited-edition Veja footwear collection, exclusively for Sky Rainforest Rescue in partnership with WWF to save a billion trees in the Brazilian Amazon, at The Hoxton Hotel on June 2, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Lily Cole attends the launch of her limited-edition Veja footwear collection(Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

"I think it signals something. I mean, it does make me more beautiful in a really momentary flash and that is someone's first impression. I actually considered not wearing any make-up at all for Helen. I didn't want that mask of beauty. I love it when people don't wear make-up. It suggests internally they're so cool and comfortable with themselves," she admitted.

"I did a shoot about six months ago where I grew out my armpit hair and in a small way it felt that I was resisting. Our concept of beauty is so restrictive. We treat it like it's got an eternal truth to it when it hasn't. It's relative to the country we're in and time period."

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