Eating Disorders In the Modeling Industry (what a surprise)

On April 1, 16-year-old model Amelia Gray with IMG compared two pictures of herself on Instagram. Both were in a bikini, and one was current and one from a year ago. She did this to address her struggle with an eating disorder. The fact that she was able to address this early on in her career is so important and inspired me to share a story about my own struggle regarding the topic. For me, however, it was one of the major reasons I did not continue modeling.

Amelia shared that people commented not on her mental state, but on how she looked. She explained that eating disorders actually stem from the mind. My eating disorder started in high school at Amelia’s age, and I actually didn’t realize I had one then. It was at a time of wanting to have the typical “model body,” and I would obsess over everything I ate. Later, in my senior year of high school, I started having problems with my obsessive compulsive disorder. It was the worst when it came to food. This was when my eating disorder came back, but it ended up getting a lot worse.

Me in high school at the size I was at when I was told to lose weight by numerous NYC agents. 

To the left is a picture of me taken at the time when I first met with agencies in New York. I met with numerous top agencies and all of them told me I needed to loose weight. I still agreed to sign with one of them. After I signed, one of my agents told me that she wanted to make sure, “I felt I had time and can do it the right way.” Looking back on it though, there was no right way because I was healthy and was confident with my body the way it was. However, modeling was something I wanted to do and I even put off college to do it full-time. If losing weight was what it took, I was going to do it.

Amelia shared that she has, “a lot of health complications after starving myself for so long.” This is a point I am happy she put out there because, when I started intentionally not eating I wasn’t aware of the impact it would have on me. My anorexia got worse over the course of my few months modeling. It took a tole on my relationships because I would feel uncomfortable eating with my friends. I would only eat small portions and certain things. It eventually developed to the point where I would exercise for hours and eat under 500 calories a day. My bones stuck out of body. If I was hungry, I would just lay down to prevent myself from feeling dizzy. When I walked into my agency to take digitals in a bikini, the agent that wanted me to, “do it right,” said, “You look great; whatever you’re doing keep it up!”

Me in Nylon Indonesian at the peak of my eating disorder. 

I began realizing that even when I wanted to eat, I felt extremely full after hardly eating anything. I couldn’t eat without getting this horribly uncomfortable feeling in my stomach like I had just eaten three plates at a buffet and something was crushing me. Most days it hurt so much I didn’t even want to get up, which was really distressing. At this point, I had to got to the hospital to have them help me get rid of this because I didn’t want to starve myself anymore. When I told my agents I was done, I felt such a freedom in knowing that I had control over my own body again.

It took months of recovering from my eating disorder and even today (over a year later) I still sometimes get nervous that the painful feeling I used to get will come back when I eat. However, I am much healthier today and am back to feeling confident about my body. Amelia Gray’s post about her experience with an eating disorder will hopefully help other girls realize that what they see in magazines isn’t always great to try and replicate. Hopefully, she can speak out about the prevalence of eating disorders in the modeling industry. Agents are still telling young and healthy girls to lose weight and are doing so because models who look very slim and sometimes even emaciated are the norm for casting directors to book. Due to this, the most important thing to do is to be aware that the only person that should decide what makes your body bad af is you, bitch!

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