A model with Crohn’s disease says a top agency run by the founder of Take That dumped her for wearing a stoma bag – leaving her dreams in tatters.
Lydia Taylor, 18, told bosses about her medical condition after she was asked to bring a bikini to a casting.
She says she had kept her condition a secret until that moment, because it had not been an issue.
But Lydia, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, claims she was dropped by Nemesis Models, which is run by Take That founder Nigel Martin-Smith, just weeks later by email.
Mr Martin-Smith denies her claims and insists it was a simple business decision.
Devastated Lydia said: “It was great when I got on the books and they were using me for shoots and my portfolio was growing.
“It was only when I was going for a Milan Fashion Week casting that I was told to bring along a bikini.
“I knew then that was going to be a problem, so I asked to talk to the booker for a minute out of the room.
“I sat down and was very anxious as I said, ‘I don’t want what I am going to tell you to affect my modelling career. I want to be on the cover of Vogue’.
“I explained I had a lot of bowel surgery and she said ‘okay’ and I was crying by this point as I told her I had an ileostomy.
“As a result I am scarred, so I could not go into the casting with a bikini on.
“Her response was a bit shocking, as she said, ‘In future I am going to have to tell them before you go into a casting’.
“By this stage I had been on their books most of the year and it had never been an issue, so nobody had been told anything before and I didn’t see why it needed to change.
“I am really tall and had the narrowest body of all the models. From then on I never got any work. I kind of made excuses for it.
“I was telling myself, I am not the right look for this, or I am not old enough, or I am not tall enough.”
But in January she got an email which read: “At the start of the year we’ve been reviewing everyone on our books, so have decided to let you go.”
It went on: “However, we do think you have a good look and should continue developing your portfolio.
“We wish you all the best for the future and hope you stick with your passion.”
Lydia fled to her bedroom in tears before calling the modelling agency for a proper explanation.
She added: “There was another size 6 model that they let go, but it turned out she was going on Britain’s Next Top Model and the majority of those let go were all size 8s.
“I was making excuses for it, but in the back of my mind I knew it was because I had told them about my condition and that is why I had been let go.
“I’d been doing it for nearly a year and had done quite a lot of castings and tests and a few jobs, but I shouldn’t have to feel penalised for my condition.
“It’s not as if anyone has said anything directly, but this is something I have to live with and deal with daily.”
Lydia developed Crohn’s Disease as a child and was told it was one of the worst four cases in the country at the time.
She went into hospital for the first time on her 10th birthday and was in and out for major surgery and treatment until 2014 when she was 15.
Lydia nearly died twice and has had more than 41 operations in total, but recovered to pursue her modelling dream.
And she insists her latest rejection will only spur her on.
She said: “I know you have to work hard to get anywhere in life, let alone in one of the hardest industries on the planet, the world of fashion.
“Now I am even more determined to go into modelling and be an advocate for young people going through a difficult time.
‘There are so many falsities out there – whatever happened to being real?”
Nigel Martin-Smith, chief executive of Nemesis Models, said: “She was a wannabe model and we wanted to give her a chance. We take on one new model a week and put them on a trial for 12 months.
“If they are working we take them on full-time. We can show the girl earned around, in 12 months, the princely sum of £500. The girl did two jobs. She didn’t work out.
“She mentioned the Crohn’s Disease, but that wasn’t an issue. A stoma doesn’t affect her working, we knew nothing about it. This is nonsense.”
Crohn’s Disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system or gut.
It can affect any part of the gut, though the most common area affected is the end of the ileum – the last part of the small intestine – or the colon.
The condition affects at least 115,000 people in the UK and millions more worldwide.