I have had a lot of people writing in to ask me why I don’t name names in my writing. Why I don’t use this platform to point fingers at the individuals who have caused me such harm over the years. Truthfully, at times I have been very tempted. But every time I consider it, something happens that makes my finger pointing unnecessary. My last post was written about someone who was a part of a company under fire for not moving with the times. Shortly before my post was due to air, they were asked to step down from said company. The timing of that seems a little too serendipitous to me.
At the end of the day, I am not comfortable being yet another whistle blower within the industry. The aim of this blog is not to point fingers. I have been writing this way for two years, with the intention of providing a means by which conversations can be started. And they have. We are seeing an unprecedented amount of models speak up, petitioning for safe work conditions. When my first blog post about gaining weight got a lot of attention, I was sure I would be fired. I am so grateful to say that my career has only gotten better.
From that point on, I have been met with love and respect from nearly everyone within the industry, and I want to pay it forward. The amount of people who have harmed me are vastly outweighed by the ones who have made my life better for knowing them. I would always rather focus on solutions than problems. And I really believe in the reformative power of conversation, especially in an industry previously based off of silence. Nearly everyone deserves a second chance to do the right thing.
Quite frankly, there is only person who I have really wanted to name. Whilst there is undue pressure at times to lose weight as a model, this person’s work has made the impossible standards dictated attainable. And they have been made very rich through this. I lived their methods first hand for many years, and I am still feeling the health repercussions.
I was told I needed to lose weight in 2014 in order to get a specific show. So of course, I went straight to this person’s office. They proceeded to tell me I was “fat”, (underweight BMI – definitely not fat) and “a mess”. I was put on protein shakes and steamed vegetables. They sold me thousands of dollars worth of supplements, and I willingly paid. Anything for a chance to achieve my career goals.
This began a four year cycle of hell for me. I would get dangerously underweight, living on nothing for months, and then when I began to eat healthily again, I would gain a huge amount of weight back. This affected me mentally, and made me feel dependent on the supplements sold to me. They told me to not work out too hard, because “if I really want to lose weight, the most effective thing will be to just not eat”. I was put on a “cleanse” that consisted of three protein shakes a day, with a slow five mile run in the morning. My hunger cues were extremely damaged for many years. It is only this past year that I learned to eat intuitively, and exercise without feeling guilty or anxious over how hungry it will make me. When doing my taxes, I realized I paid this person thousands of dollars over five years. He destroyed my digestion. When I gained the weight back, I developed PMDD for the first time in my life.
But I got the job. I walked that runway. Was it worth it?
This was the person who I most want to name. I went so far as to get stuck into the health law of NY, to see if anything they were doing was illegal. It seemed illegal. Because this person is not a trained nutritionist, yet they are marketing themselves as exactly that. I am a second year college nutrition student – I have more nutritional training than this person. That is not to discount their education. They are a trained healthcare professional. But still, they are qualified to give nutritional advice whilst their specialization is elsewhere in the human body. And technically, there is nothing illegal about this. You are allowed to work like this in the state of NY.
Technically, there is nothing wrong with what this person does. Morally (to me), everything is wrong.
The fact is, that if you are a model over a certain age, it becomes harder to maintain the required 34 inch hip. You get told to lose weight by clients via your agent, and so you seek out the person who succeeded in making your friends get small enough. This person’s name is synonymous with weight loss in the fashion industry, and so they get a lot of business. Never mind the fact that they get business by making a lot of people sick.
A work acquaintance went to see him and said that the individual was talking about going to a BBQ for the summer, and followed it up with “but none of this for you!” whilst wagging their finger. Another friend was a guinea pig for a “cleanse” they were testing, that resulted in extreme GI distress. Yet another friend went to this individual because they needed to lose 20 pounds in time for a job. They were told to not eat at all. For two weeks.
None of what they are doing is illegal. They have a solid client base because they achieve that ever elusive goal of “thin enough”. The cost for me and many of my friends is that of destroyed hunger signals, tanked hormones and a fried digestive system. I wish that there was not a place in the industry for them.
Because, there is a place in the industry for them. They do have a huge amount of very pleased clients - I was one of them for many years. They make it possible to conform to a very small size as dictated by a warped society. It hurts me to think about these happy clients bodily systems in a few years. The anxiety they will go through when they inevitably start eating healthily again. I would have a pit in my stomach if I didn’t have my protein shakes on me, or I had to eat out with friends. They took years from me, and I hate to see them doing the same to my friends.
The only way out is to make no space for them and their ways in your life. For me, that meant relearning how to eat three meals a day. Relearning how to work out and be happy with natural hunger cues.
Basically relearning how to be a functioning human.
As per your requests, I will be following up these posts with more insight into the recovery phase of my life.
I love and appreciate you all. And try to respond to all your emails!
Peace and love,