In an unprecedented court case, the Dutch fashion model Ananda Marchildon, 25, went up against Elite, the most powerful agency in the business, and came out victorious. Marchildon had been promised €75,000 (about $100,000) when she won the Holland’s Next Top Model television competition in 2008. But Elite subsequently dismissed her, saying her hips were too big by two centimeters (3/4 of an inch). The court in the Netherlands ruled today that Elite would have to pay her the remaining €65,000.
Marchildon has been earning her living as a cabinetmaker since her modeling career was put on hold. “I was at work when I got the call from my lawyer who told me, ‘You got it!’ I just went: ‘Yeah!’” Then, said Marchildon, she cried. “Oh, I am so relieved,” Marchildon told The Daily Beast. “After almost two years of struggling I was finally proven right. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.”
One of the main points of contention in the case was Elite’s claim not to have taken over Modelmasters the Agency (MTA), which made its promise to Marchildon in the first place. Even though MTA in effect ceased to exist and Elite picked up its models, Elite said it was not responsible to fulfill MTA’s obligations. The judge disagreed, ruling that “Marchildon could in good faith count on the fact that the contract between Marchildon and MTA was valid for Elite as well.”
When Elite sent Marchildon packing, it claimed that her hips, measuring 92 centimeters (36¼ inches) were just too broad for her to get work. Marchildon starved herself and exercised relentlessly to try to lose the required two centimeters, but to no avail. A spokesman from Elite Models allegedly said that because of her “fat ass,” she was unfit for modeling.
The Amsterdam court ruled that when the contract was signed Marchildon had a hip size of 92 cm, and “therefore Elite could not demand Marchildon reach a hip size of 90 cm.”
Marchildon, who’s no longer starving herself, posed for a fashion shoot on Monday wearing nothing but lingerie, and she certainly did not look fat, but it is doubtful the photographs published Tuesday swayed the court.
When the Beast asked Marchildon what she intends to do, she said simply, “Well, I have to get back to work now.” She didn’t mean modeling—she meant making cabinets. Later, she said, she and her friends will open a bottle of champagne.