“From cocaine to eating cotton wool balls, the sad reality of how models are told to stay thin”

By Bibby Sowray, for The Fashion Telegraph UK

Each Fashion Week season, the issue of models and their weight is brought to our attention. Whether it’s the latest industry initiative to stop designers using unhealthily thin models, or society’s discontent with designers who consistently book underweight models, you can guarantee debate and controversy one way or another.

As New York Fashion Week ends, one model has spoken of the great lengths some models go to in order to achieve the sample-sized figure their work requires.

Russian model, Kira Dikhtyar told Fox News that “packs of cigarettes, daily colonics, laxatives, Phentermine diet pills, Adderal, prescription drugs that suppress the appetite,” are just some of the techniques employed by her colleagues to stave off hunger.

“I’ve heard stories that some modeling agents encourage girls to do speed and cocaine in order to speed up metabolism and eat less. And all kinds of injections are becoming more and more popular, from HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) injections that go with a 500-calorie [per day] diet plan to T3 thyroid injections that healthy models inject in an attempt to speed up their thyroid function, which results in a faster metabolism,” Dikhtyar said.

The 24-year-old said only one designer had turned her away for being too thin at New York Fashion Week this year. That designer was Elie Tahari. “So I guess I should applaud him,” Dikhtyar said.

HCG injections consist of a hormone which is produced during pregnancy and causes the uterus to be enriched with a thick lining of blood vessels and capillaries, so that it can sustain a growing foetus. As a prescription medication, HCG injections are often used in fertility therapy, however, they have recently received attention for their use as a weight loss aid, due to their ability to suppress appetite. Health authorities have advised against using HCG for weight loss, due to serious side effects such as gallstones, strokes and blood clots.

Dikhtyar said some models are trying hypnosis to curb their desire to eat, while others resort to eating cotton wool balls, to fill their grumbling stomachs. One model manager said a client was forced by her agent to urinate on a ketosis stick, to make sure that she was adhering to the agent’s prescribed Atkins Diet and not consuming any carbohydrates.

“From taking water pills, to fat flushes; models do everything they can to flush out any excess fat or water weight before hitting the runway,” she told us. “I’ve seen models do ridiculous cleanses and diets – the lettuce soup diet, the lemon juice diet, extreme diet pills etc. I’ve even heard of models detoxing a full month before a show and working out three times a day. It’s insane.”

So why is it that high-end magazines want more “full-figured” models on their covers these days, while high-end fashion shows are still seeking super thin, super young girls to roam the runway?

“People that pick up magazines are consumers. They want to see people that relate to them, which will make the consumer more eager to buy products. But designers are showing their garments to the majority crowd, who are mostly retailers. The collections are also considered ‘drafts’, and those drafts are fitted to a mannequin that is size 0 or 2 dress size,” explains Krystle Kelley, former model turned president of the California-based Desert Models Agency. “The other concern of the designer is for the garments to flow, as well as be mesmerizing on the catwalk, and the way to accomplish that is for the dress, pants, gown etc. to be long. The only way to fit a long garment is with a model who is thin and tall.”

Dikhtyar’s claims come shortly after two major initiatives were put in place to combat extreme and dangerous weight loss behaviour. In January this year, the CFDA released guidelines asking NYFW designers to, amongst other things, ask models for I.D., encourage those with eating disorders to seek help and to provide substantial amounts of healthy food backstage. Similarly, Vogue magazine launched ‘The Health Initiative’ in June – a pact between 19 of the magazines’ international editors to encourage a healthier approach to body image within the industry.


Above: Martyna Budna exposes her tiny frame on the catwalk during Mark Fast’s autumn/winter 2011 collection at London Fashion Week. Photo: Rex


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