I’ve always been a naturally thin person. From as early as I can remember I’ve had adults fuss over my size. You know that whole “Oh my god you’re so tiny you look like you could snap” thing. My parents have even told me of the advice they received when I was in primary school to change my diet; up my intake of that, feed me more of this. People even suggested to them that I be fed a bunch of supplements to increase my size. Multiple trips to both a GP and nutritionist though told me I was perfectly healthy.
I was lucky enough to go through High-School without my size ever being an issue. Most would expect stereotypical stories of relentless teasing and body confidence issues as a result but my peers were always supportive and I never heard a single comment about how thin I was. It wasn’t until I left school and began modelling that I was exposed to the harsh reality of judgement and size discrimination that the industry can be known for.
As much as someone can ‘choose’ their path, I chose to be a model. It took a little bit of right place, right time and all of that but I was determined to break into the industry the second I finished school and my parents gave me their green light to switch my focus from academics to a world of high fashion, hard workouts and heavily scrutinized eating habits. My first real shoot for a client was a dream come true and not long after that I landed an agent and felt like everything was absolutely perfect.
It all began to come crashing down however about six months into my career. I felt like a star on the rise but as more and more media backlash began to circulate about the industry’s obsession with sickly thin models and people began pushing for stricter size control, I started to lose out jobs to girls who before, would have been considered a ‘large’ model. Clients would tell me they loved my face but that I needed to gain some weight before they could work with me in order to promote a ‘healthy’ image.
On one of my last shoots in Australia, the photographer stopped mid shoot and started talking ‘privately’ with the stylist, loud enough that everyone could hear their conversation anyway. He sounded frustrated as he complained about the “stick figure” of a model he was being forced to work with and pleaded that the stylist put me in something to hide my slender limbs. Actually, his exacts words were “to beef her up a bit”. It was my first front on experience with criticism about my weight and boy did it sting. I felt embarrassed and blundered the rest of the shoot out of sheer awkwardness.
On the advice of my agent and other model friends, I decided to move to Europe in the hopes of being able to fit in with what was a thinner industry than Australia with the ultra-waif look preferred by a lot of the high fashion houses. I worked successfully for a couple of months before I once again began to hear on a daily basis that I was just too thin. My thick skin and knowledge that I was actually a very healthy person only got me so far until people’s assumptions and criticisms of my supposed eating disorder began to mess with me to the point where my once nutritious and nourishing diet and lifestyle turned completely toxic.
I loved modelling. I was good at it but apparently I was too thin for it. What else was I supposed to do but try and gain weight anyway I could to once again be accepted by the industry I loved so much. My salmon fillet with eggs and quinoa breakfast staple turned into doughnuts and milkshakes. Burgers, chips, pizza and pasta took place of the chicken breast and stir fried veg I once loved and bingeing on desserts somehow became a more effective way to spend my time than working out.
It probably goes without saying that my previously well trained and maintained body didn’t handle the sudden influx of junk food and irregular binge eating patterns well and after a short time, my body got so over it that I couldn’t keep anything down when I tried to eat. I felt horrible. My mental health was deteriorating as quickly as my physical health was and I wasn’t even gaining enough weight to please people and escape their critique of my body.
Miraculously, my forever supportive friends and family were strong enough to snap me out of my depression and harmful habits and helped me to walk away from modelling. I don’t hold any bitterness toward the industry that took me in, chewed me up and spat me back out, only concern for other girls who are struggling with their image within the industry. In a crazy and hard to understand way, I kind of support the movement toward a more attainable body image but hope that health, both mental and physical, can be put before concerns of how a model looks. I hope that whether someone is curvy and voluptuous or stick thin like I was, that they can be happy enough with themselves and be receiving the support they need to live a healthy and balanced life.”