By Calynn M. Lawrence
1,920 girls. That is the approximate number of how many fashion models in the United States of America are currently struggling with, or have struggled with before, an eating disorder. According to Quora.com there are about 4,800 fashion models currently full time employed in the United States of America. This means that the study conducted by Medical News Today in 2007 that insists that 20 to 40 percent of fashion models struggle with normal eating habits, would numerate at about 1,920 girls every single year. Is that not alarming? Is that not something that you would want to help put a stop towards? Well, it certainly is something that we as a society need to deal with. It is not a black or white thing. It is not a fashion industry thing. It is a societal issue. This article is going to give you tips from two real world survivors of eating disorders and how they managed to overcome their sickness and remain conscious in a modeling world of starving talent. Names have been changed for privacy.
Sarah, a professional dancer and pageant contestant, claims that the dance and fashion industry almost ripped her to shreds but once she realized that it was her perspective that was damaging her health, she was fully able to succeed in conquering anorexia. She says “ I have been a dancer for as long as I can remember. I started at the tender age of two years old and have been doing occasional modeling since I was a teen. I must say that it is not easy at all to mainatin a level head when the vast majority of your competition is skinnier than you. You look at people that seem to effortlessly remain a size 0 gain so much exposure and work, mean while you struggle to stay a size 4 and receive half of what they do. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I have experienced ‘fat shaming’ in one industry more than another because they are equal. As a long time ballerina, I was criticized constantly for having a waist line that was not exactly 23.5 inches or smaller, never 24. As a model and pageant contestant, I was forced into size 2 dresses by my stylists and if I could not shimmy and shake into them, they would refuse me service. Going days without eating was not uncommon. But, I am not going to say that it is a hundred percent their fault because the indystry has made them this way.”
“One day, I was finally at my boiling point and I said ‘forget this. I am going to be beautiful at any size. I am done with this nonsense.’ From that day on, I began to decline job offers that required a certain extreme weight or body measurements. Instead, I would look for jobs that were non discriminatory and surround myself with other industry talent that did the same. See, the thing is all about perspective and association. If I continued applying for jobs that had such unhealthy requirements then I would continue to suffer in my own stride. If I continued to harp on the exmaples of my tiny comrads who were getting booked more often than I, I would still be depressed and feeling lesser than. This is why I think that those who seriously wish to remain conscious should stear clear of any negative negry or influence. PERIOD! That’s it and that’s all.”
Rhonda, a retired fashion model, had a near death experience due to her obsession with being thin and that changed her entire outlook on how she was going to live her life. She says “ I was a fashion model for almost a decade. I am someone who knows first hand how crazy the expectations of these designers and brands can be for their models. People look at me now that I am retired, as a size 10, and think that I must have been a plus sized model. But no, I was the real deal sample size fashion model. I got so much work just from my modeling jobs that I did not have to work a full time regular job until I retired last year. I spent years, surviving on just a few hundred calories a day and jugs of water to fill my stomach. This was my way of staying a size 2 for all of those years, when I am naturally a curvy woman.”
“I think that by me almost having died when I took it too far and fasted for almost a week straight for Fashion Week, that I have a completely different idea of what is true success. For me, I chose to leave the industry because I knew what it would take for me to be successful. But, I know that if you are young and determined that you should stay focused on accepting your natural beauty. Nothing comes easily, obviously even naturally thin people have to work out and eat healthy. Yet, you should never go to such extreme measures just to fit the wants of some tyrannical designer. I think the blame is equally on them. If we expect a world of healthy models, we need a world of healthy opportunities. At the end of the day, people will do what they have to to pay the bills. And if the only thing paying the bills is work as a straving model, then that’s where they will go. Just my opinion.”
As you can see, it is very crucial for each one’s health that you remain conscious in the modeling industry. Never forsake your peace of mind and your health for a role! Also, those who are creating these unhealthy opportunities should seriously take a step back and look at the numbers. Open your eyes to how many models are dying to work for companies like yours. This is not a modeling thing. It’s a societal thing. We as a community have to change the way that we look at what is beautiful.