By Jess Quinn
I can’t even count how many times I have heard my mom say that beauty is pain. I used to think it was something she would tell me in order to shut me up while brushing through my long, tangled hair, or forcing me into itchy tutus before a dance recital. But, now that I have grown up (a little), I’ve realized that she was simply passing down a lesson that many women, especially models, have had to learn and endure throughout their lives.
For models, pain is apart of the job. From bruised, cut, and blistered feet during fashion week, to posing in extreme weather conditions, they’ve experienced it all.
Models are often forced into shoes that are too small or too big that not only destroy their feet (visibly and internally), but can also be the cause of runway spills and sprained ankles. In fact, make-up artists know to bring body make-up for post fashion week shoots in order to cover up the battle scars that adorn these runway models. As if that wasn’t enough, because of timing in the fashion industry, it isn’t uncommon for models to be posing in spring/ summer looks in freezing temperatures or in winter garments in the middle of the summer heat. While posing in Antartica for the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, Kate Upton reportedly suffered from frostbite. Telling The Today Show: “When I came back, I was losing hearing and eyesight because my body was shutting down, it was working so hard.”
Physical pain is not the only thing that models experience while on the job. Some models are asked to (overcome their fears and) pose with dangerous animals like, snakes, spiders, exotic cats, and even sharks. Which, to those who are extremely fearful of these creatures, can be just as painful as a sprained ankle. In 2012, Cara Delevingne posed with a tarantula over her right eye for the cover of i-D magazine and models Roberta Mancino and Hannah Fraser posed underwater with 30-foot whale sharks off the coast of Oslab in the Philippines. While these creatures are usually accompanied by a specialist and safety precautions are taken, the fear these models house is still prominent and something that must be overcome in order to get the shot- ouch!
Models may experience the worst of it, but society will always find a way to make “regular” women go through pain for fashion as well. We cringe from imagining the pain that corsets must have caused women in the 19th and early 20th centuries, yet we fall for the standard six-inch stiletto pumps, heavy designer bags and low-rise skinny jeans. We are always so quick to fall for the next trend without taking into account what they might be doing to our bodies.
Companies like, Dr. Scholl’s, have caught onto this and have made a fortune off of high heel inserts and other products to ease the pain and help prevent long-term damage- but has the damage already been done? According to osteopathic.org, high heels can cause damage to leg tendons, nerve damage in your toes, bunions, and even pain in your lower back. “Any time you wear shoes that restrict the natural shape of your foot, you’re at risk for experiencing pain,” says osteopathic physician, Natalie A. Nevins, DO. Another fashion “must” that causes long-term pain? Heavy bags and purses. The over-sized bag epidemic can lead to stress in the neck and shoulders, headaches, and back pain. In fact, according to chiropractor, Marta Collotta, “handbags are one of the biggest culprits for back pain right now.” Surprisingly enough, wearing skinny jeans can also be a health risk. The constricting pants can cause numbness in the thighs, known as meralgia paresthetica, and may lead to permanent nerve damage. Other side effects include heartburn and abdominal discomfort. “When you’re wearing skinny jeans to make yourself skinny that’s not the point. Clothing isn’t designed to give us a shape that we don’t have, and that’s where people get in trouble,” says vascular surgeon, Dr. Nicholas Morrissey of the ill-fitting jeans.
Looking back, it doesn’t seem like women have learned much from their corset-wearing ancestors (who were most-likely just following an old trend). While they might be a little more educated in the serious side effects that certain fashions can cause, the need to fit in and be on trend trumps health risks and continues to be an issue amongst fashionistas everywhere in a never ending cycle.