Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha has just been announced as the official International Style Guest for the 2013 Melbourne Cup Carnival. Scouted at an Irish dancing competition when she was 14, Rocha has modelled for every major designer, has appeared on many covers of the most influential fashion magazines (including several times for Vogue Italia) and boasts a combined 11 million followers on her blog OH SO COCO, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and vimeo accounts.

Coco Rocha pictured early this year at the Kentucky Derby.

Coco Rocha pictured early this year at the Kentucky Derby.

The coach/judge of The Face is one of the few models to address the prevalence of eating disorders in her industry, after the five-foot-ten beauty had previously been told she did not conform to the ultra-slim size zero look favoured by designers. “I’m not in demand for the shows anymore,” she said in an interview after one particular New York Fashion Week. “I’ve been told to lose weight when I was really skinny.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Rocha spoke out about when she came to terms with the industry’s unrealistic expectations of models. “It took me a long time in the business to realise I didn’t have to do everything people told me I should if I wanted a career…You know what, I stopped caring,” she said. “If I want a hamburger, I’m going to have one. No 21-year-old should be worrying about whether she fits a sample size… A lot of people don’t take into account the vulnerability of these young girls.”

Her willingness to speak out about the pressures facing models led to an invite from US Vogue supremo Anna Wintour to participate in the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Health Initiative conferences, where she discussed the issues of weight and age in the modelling industry. She is now on the board of the Model Alliance, which was established to protect models and improve their working conditions.

Rocha will spend six days in Melbourne and will be attending Emirates Melbourne Cup Day, the Crown Oaks Club Luncheon and Crown Oaks Day. She will also put her fashion expertise to use, judging the Women’s Racewear and Design Award on Cup Day, and the Women’s Racewear National Final on Oaks Day.

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By Lisa Tan