"NO BOOBS, no hips." That is the chilling request a number of Ireland's top fashion designers are voicing when requesting models to showcase their clothes, one of the country's top model agents has revealed.
Orla Diffily, the head of Upfront Model Management, which has over two dozen models on her books, has hit out against the "androgynous" look that she says is continuously asked for by Dublin- based fashion designers.
But she says the problem does not exist outside of the capital, where shops and fashion designers will only work with size 10-12 models.
"'No boobs, no hips' – that is the direction I have been receiving from some of Ireland's top fashion designers when booking girls. And I am speaking out about it because I believe it is morally wrong," Ms Diffily told the Sunday Independent.
"I was shocked when I first heard it but now I realise a lot of them are requesting that look for practical reasons – it's all about the fitting. They believe the clothes fall better on the models without needing to be altered in any way.
"But for society to put this kind of pressure on young girls, and to make the androgynous look seem OK, is not acceptable and I believe we all have to play our part in stamping it out."
Ms Diffily said she spoke out because she fears impressionable young girls will think they have to look like skinny boys to get work as a model.
She told the Sunday Independent: "The reason they want this is because girls who are that thin make the best clothes horses. They don't have to go to the trouble of taking the clothes in or out or making sure they fit them before a show. They can just slip the garments on and they hang perfectly, with no extra hassle.
"But then the girls who are walking out on the runway and posing for photographs are desperately thin. They look like 14-year-old boys. And young impressionable women see this and think this is what they should aspire to be.
"What's more, it is a problem I am only seeing in Dublin. Down the country they want real women, who are real shapes and sizes. In other parts of Ireland the girls won't get work unless they are a size 10. Country women and shops want women to have boobs and hips. They see the fuller figure as attractive. It's only a pressure that is coming from Dublin."
Backstage at the shows, the veteran model agent and PR woman said competition between models is rife, which puts them under increased pressure to lose weight, often to the detriment of their health.
"I am seeing the girls themselves put under pressure by this waif-thin look. At the shows they discuss weight. And back stage all the models have to strip off in front of one another, there are countless dress changes. So everyone is looking at everyone else, comparing their figures and seeing who is the skinniest and that's when girls start to lose more weight," Ms Diffily added.
"I have sometimes had to remind a girl that we hired them because they were beautiful as is and that's the weight we want them to stay. We don't want them to get any thinner.
"One of our girls had a great future, she went over to London to meet some agencies and she was brought into a room, stripped down to her underwear, measured and told to lose a stone in weight.
"Now this girl was underweight going over there. So for one or two years' work she was going to leave herself open to a lifetime of stomach problems and worry about her size? I tell them it's not worth it."
Ms Diffily, who runs the annual Kerry Fashion Week, says she believes the androgynous look also has a negative effect on the female audience the clothes are aimed at.
"Some of the audience feel insignificant because they don't think they will ever be able to wear the clothes in the same way that the models can. They go away feeling bad about themselves.
"Magazine editors, fashion designers, agents, the people driving this industry – it's up to us to put a stop to it and stop telling women that this is the look they should aspire to. I just hope more people will follow suit."