Healthy Modeling

Healthy Modeling

I am very happy to say that my body has reached its natural set point. For the last year, my weight has not fluctuated significantly. And for the last two years, my weight has not dipped out of its current BMI bracket. I know that for a lot of people, this is not a big deal. But I have spent the last 14 years attempting to get as small as I can, and then dealt with the mental fall out when I would inevitably gain all the weight back, and then some. I can honestly say that I am now free to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. And what I see in the mirror doesn’t change dramatically. I have one size in my wardrobe, instead of a range. Nothing is tight, and nothing is loose.

I feel free from food fear. Finally.

To be ok with my body staying the same, with not viewing my body as a means by which to wage a personal war, has certainly been a struggle. I am aware of my mental tendencies. Whenever life gets rocky, I have a desire to not eat. Whenever life goes particularly nicely, I also have a desire to not eat. Basically, when anything in my life changes, my knee jerk is to diminish in size. But these days, I get to choose to not indulge in those desires. It is very empowering. Self knowledge is everything to me.

However, I do need to acknowledge how my environment has shaped my mental state. I have always worked very hard to not blame the modeling industry, or anyone within the industry for my mental struggles. Because it is no ones fault, it is my burden to bear, and I am proud of myself for showing up to the work. Quite frankly, I am beyond grateful for the industry. It has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams, and every client has been a gift to work with.

But the fact remains, until this year, I was expected to remain a hip size of 35 inches of under. My set point is at least an inch higher than that. It is just the way I am built. Some models maintain the required size effortlessly. I am not one of those girls. And that has certainly been a huge amount of pressure on me for the past 14 years of working as a model. I have been rewarded with my highest profile clients when my hips were at their smallest (33 inches). And when I gained half an inch from that, I lost those clients - being told that my body did not look good enough. I’m thankful that the sheer insanity of being rejected over half an inch of gain (which was not enough to get my periods back, or stop my hair from falling out) was enough to get myself into recovery from my eating disorder. My full health has been a gift beyond my wildest dreams. I never want to lose it again.

This year I made myself an agreement. I would return to full time modeling work, if, and only if, I was able to maintain my weight. If I was able to be free to eat healthily, work out, and do the job that I love, then I would continue. My health is my utmost priority. If my job got in the way of my health, then I would move on from modeling. When I articulated this to my agents, they all were in total agreeance. My health and happiness would come first. So they sent me out to castings. At a size four.

And I am extremely excited to say that I have had loveliest year of work thus far into my career. My wonderful agent has made it a point to send me to sets where I am welcome at my healthiest. And these sets have been only loving and kind towards me. I find myself doing fittings with clothes my size, and if the clothes are too small, alterations are made sans comments about my size. The first time I turned up on a set with only sample size fours available, I nearly cried from gratitude.

This to me shows that part of the fashion industry is truly changing. The fact that I am welcome on these sets exactly as I am, and I am being rewarded with work for my health, fills me with such hope for the future. I can’t remember the last time I was on a set and was made to feel self conscious about my body. I feel fully present on set, and I’m sure this is reflect in other people’s work experience with me.

However, mentally it is constant vigilance. Comments such as “you’re glowing” or “you look so alive and healthy” are massive triggers for me. The realities of this make me very sad. I wish that we were a society where strength and solidity were celebrated (as they should be). I know that these comments are not meant as insults. The people at the end of these comments only mean well. It is me, who’s knee jerk reaction is that of fear and self disgust.

I was on a set earlier this year where the comment “that dress fits you like a glove!” was said. My knee jerk reaction was that of shame. Dresses aren’t supposed to fit like a glove (never mind it was a sample size 2), they are supposed to sit loose on your small frame and be pulled tight. But then I looked in the stylists face, and the assenting room, and I realized that they truly loved it. And when the time came to assigning outfits between me, and the other much younger and subsequently smaller model, I got the dresses that “fit like a glove”.

Because that is the message they want to send out. I now am sent on castings where I look around the room and see very few other size four blonde girls. I see a range of sizes, backgrounds and ages. I see a range of hair styles and stories accompanying the obligatory portfolio. This has set me free.

I am honored to be part of the movement towards inclusivity and body acceptance. And the tide is turning. I am so grateful for that.


Peace and love,


Main Photograph | Andrew Parsons

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