Recently I came across a study that was done on the emotional health of fashion models. The study found that 68% of fashion models say they suffer from anxiety and depression. (Unfortunately, I fell under this category.) Another 65% have been asked to lose weight by their agencies. Furthermore, 31% reported they have an eating disorder. Now you can imagine if 31% reported they have an eating disorder then the percentage must be higher for those who either don’t recognize they actually have an eating disorder or those who simply suffer from massive worry over what they eat and their weight. I fell under the second category, and, although I did not exhibit eating disorder behavior, my internal struggle with my weight and food was tough, to say the least. I can only imagine the pain and suffering a person goes through who has an actual eating disorder.
After I read the study, it dawned on me that these statistics fit me. I was a statistic- NOT a great thought. It had never occurred to me that modeling had anything to do with my internal struggles. Of course, no one can say there is a direct causation—that modeling causes depression and anxiety or that modeling directly causes eating disorders—but the percentages are so high modeling must have some influence on depression. It must have some influence on anxiety and some influence on the way models feel about their bodies.
So there I was working as a model. I traveled around the world, did make-up campaigns like Revlon and Maybelline; hair campaigns like Loreal; designer clothing campaigns like Gucci and Max Mara; commercials like Oil of Olay and Crest, and on and on. Even with all my success and accolades as a top model, I was anxious and depressed and hated myself, my weight and my body. It never occurred to me that the profession I was in—the modeling profession—had an impact on those things. I simply thought I had character defects and weaknesses. I did not consider modeling had any effect on me in a negative way. My guess is that models suffer from the COMPARE AND DESPAIR game like all women do at some time or another.
How does this apply to us, as women? Well, let’s just say we have to be vigilant about our self-esteem and the self-esteem of the girls in our lives. Here are three tips to remain aware and more in control of how you feel about yourself, especially as it pertains to your body.
- Look at magazines for entertainment and information, NOT to compare yourself to the pictures. A simple reminder that “This is for enjoyment!” before picking up a woman’s magazine, can make a difference.
- Notice how you feel and how you are speaking to yourself after you partake in certain media. How do you feel after watching a certain reality show or perusing a certain website? Feel worse than you did before? Consider ditching it or changing your attitude toward it.
- Remember that commercials are designed to make you NEED something. They play on women’s insecurities and promise that their product will make you finally, totally and completely happy. Hey, I like a good moisturizer as much as the next girl, yet I remind myself that wrinkles happen and save myself the obsessive purchasing of one cream after another, after another. …
Be well, Susan