When you hear the term “model” what comes to mind? Perhaps you conjure up images of cat-fights on and off the catwalk? Skinny young things starving themselves to reach fame and fortune? Materialism and fast living?
Well Amanda Rootsey is proving that modelling can be a path toward ethical action and empowerment! Australia’s first ever ecofashion model is an intelligent, inspirational woman whose journey has led her to a life of kindness – to herself, those around her and the planet.
Q. What does it mean to be an ecofashion model in an industry largely based on superficiality and fast fashion? What have been the major challenges of this role?
For me, being an eco-model means working as a fashion model but choosing to work with eco-friendly and ethical companies. They don’t have to shout it from the rooftops, but if they are trying to implement ways to tread lighter on the planet and treat people and animals with respect then I am keen to work with them. For me, it’s more about what they are choosing NOT to do e.g. exploiting animals. As you said, the industry is “largely based on superficiality and fast fashion,” so it’s time to shine a light on all of the incredible designers who are leading the way for a sustainable future. This seemed like a small way for me to do my part.
It’s been interesting and quite challenging as many people in the industry think that eco and sustainable fashion is more of a passing fad than the way of the future. But it’s been great to collaborate and work with companies that are keen to ensure that the face of their brand also shares their values.
Q. How was your passion for ethical fashion first sparked?
I haven’t always been interested in the environment or the process behind how that beautiful dress got to be in my closet. As long as it looked good I loved it! But I went vegetarian in 2008 and then I was working in Italy and had to wear a fur coat. It didn’t feel right but I put it out of my mind and got on with my work.
Then, due to health reasons, I went vegan in 2009 and since then I have looked into the environmental and ethical reasons behind a vegan lifestyle as well. This sparked an interest in ethical fashion as well because fashion had always been a big part of my life. I was quite shocked to read some of the evidence, such as the fashion industry is the 2nd largest user of water in the world and that over 50 million animals still suffer and die because of the fur trade.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your journey toward becoming a committed vegan and why this has been an important aspect of your life?
I initially went vegan for health reasons. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009 at the age of 24. I had just come home from modelling in Europe and was shocked to be told I had cancer. I started researching what may have caused it and what I could do to help my body fight it.
One of the things that kept coming up over and over again was the link between animal protein (from meat, dairy, etc) and all sorts of diseases, including many forms of cancer. I was particularly interested in books like The China Study and Cleanse and Purify Thyself. So I went vegan straight away and felt incredible. Not only physically, but emotionally as well; like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Q. What are your favourite things to do at home to lighten your ecological footprint?
Well, considering the livestock industry is the number 1 cause of global warming, being vegan is probably my favourite. I also ride my bike as often as I can, be frugal in terms of what I buy and try to buy second-hand as much as I can and support local farmers where possible.
Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you?
Q. If you could instantly transform one aspect of the fashion industry, what would it be?
Hmm can I pick two? Child slave labour and the use of animals in fashion would both be eliminated.