Model Petra Nemcova knows what it’s like to struggle to be a size zero in order to stay on the runway – and says she went on brutal diets and even took laxatives to stay thin.
“I went through so many diets in my life. I’ve been very, very skinny. I’ve been a size zero but I’m naturally more curvy,” she tells PEOPLE. “I ate just vegetables, carrots, tomatoes. I went from a just-protein diet to just eating apples to eating no carbs. I took laxatives. I went through all of it just to be able to model.”
Nemcova’s comments come in the wake of a decision earlier this month by Madrid Fashion Week officials, who set off an international catfight by announcing that models participating in Fashion Week shows there had to meet a weight standard: Their body-mass index needed to be at least 18 – or 122 lbs. for someone 5’9″.
Some fashion-world movers and shakers share their take on the new rules with PEOPLE:
• Designer Donatella Versace: “The house of Versace has always used women as opposed to girls in our fashion shows and ad campaigns. I have always preferred to work with models that have feminine curves over too thin models.”
• Stylist Rachel Zoe: “I don’t think they’ll ever get banned. I think that as an industry we should promote healthiness. I think that there’s a small grey area between being too skinny and sick versus being a thin person. I think if everyone looks to Kate Moss, I mean, she looks great, she’s not too thin, she looks healthy.”
• Designer Antonio Pernas: “I had to change the whole lot (of models in my show) in one day! (But) this industry sets an example to young women, so I’m not against the measures.”
• Model Kimberly Stewart: Should the Madrid ban be adopted worldwide? “I think, yeah, I think it should. (The super-thin image) is not good for underage girls, I agree. In New York and Los Angeles it’s the same.”
• Designer Ben de Lisi: “I chose all my models because they are healthy and beautiful, and whether they are skinny or curvaceous, as long as they are healthy, they’re on my catwalk. If they look beautiful and they look healthy and they’re naturally thin, then they will go on my catwalk. Full stop.”
• Actress Thandie Newton “Some women are just naturally very slim. I don’t think that fashion necessarily promotes a very skinny look anymore. There are a lot of women in the public eye – and actors have a lot to do with that – who have a more curvy physique, (such as) Scarlett Johansson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who are hugely admired by audiences. If anything, I think there’s a wider range of body types now for fashion.”
• Reporting by MONIQUE JESSEN
For more on this story, check out the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday