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The fashion industry is cruel. It dismisses physical diversity, glorifies ultra-skinny models and, to a background of unrealistic expectations about the perfect body, destroys everybody who doesn’t look like that. That explains the obsession with wanting to perfect your appearance at any cost, even if it means trampling on reality to achieve perfection. A lot of women who are just not built to be supermodels set out down that road regardless, and they end up with eating disorders.
A career as a model may last a shorter time than the damage it causes, and models themselves are probably the main victims. To find out more, we interviewed a sparkling young woman from the world of fashion: Vanessa Rosseto.
Vanessa, fashion model and Brazilian TV presenter, takes us behind the scenes of this dream job.
“I decided to accept my body as it is. I don’t do any more drastic diets to have the so-called perfect body.”
– In just a few words, who is Vanessa ?
– A magnificent, intense, fashionable butterfly, oops, a woman.
– I’d like to talk about the way that eating disorders affect fashion models and people who aspire towards having a model figure, as a result of the unrealistic images being sold to us by the fashion industry. As a model yourself, have you suffered from eating disorders, or tried a drastic diet to lose weight?
– I’ve never thought of depriving myself of food to lose weight. I love to eat, it’s one of the greatest pleasures in the world for me, but of course, when you are a model there are certain standards of slimness and there have been moments when I asked myself “Hey, what can I do to get in shape fast?” Some projects have pretty strict requirements, you have to lose weight quickly, which can be a bit abrupt. My solution was to drink liquid protein which comes as a powder or shake, and that worked for me! Of course it’s just a crash diet, not something you can do all the time. And that’s quite right, I’ve learnt to eat healthily and avoid becoming a model who “shakes” her life up (she laughs).
– As you know, there’s a huge debate about ultra-skinny models. If they get too much exposure, we can end up taking them as the standard for beauty. Is thin fashionable?
– At the end of the day, I think the industry is more sensitive about promoting a healthy body image. I can’t say it’s natural but at least it’s healthier. For example, unlike the fashion models who starve themselves, there are more and more models who do sport, don’t drink and don’t eat fast food. I don’t know if it’s healthier psychologically, but physically at any rate it’s clearly better than anorexia.
– What is the hidden side of modelling? We only see the glamorous side, and I imagine things are a little different behind the scenes of this job. Are you always “under pressure” and in competition with your counterparts?
– There are models who torture themselves for success. I decided to accept my body as it is. I don’t do any more drastic diets to have the so-called perfect body. My body is well proportioned and the clothes fit me, so why do the agencies keep on pushing what they consider to be perfect vital statistics, the famous 36-24-36? Because of the slimness ideal that comes from the fashion industry, which is just rubbish!
– Have you heard of “binge eating disorder”, which involves compulsive heavy eating? Has it affected you, or do you know of any colleagues who’ve suffered from it?
– I’ve heard of it but I don’t think I know any of its victims.
– In the show-biz industry, lots of celebrities worry too much about what other people think and say about them. Does this affect you?
– I think it’s just a question of attitude. Most of the time I take no notice of what people say, even the agencies, but since I started working in television I have become a perfectionist. I’m the first to criticise myself, so in reality I’m my own worst enemy.
– Based on your experience, what advice would you give to young girls who want to become models, or girls who are fascinated by the “fashionable body”?
– Girls who want to start a career as a model need to choose a good agency and listen to what they have to say, because they know the market. Listening doesn’t mean doing everything they ask, but it is useful to pick out valuable advice. You also need to do your own research so as not to be scammed or led astray. Above all I would say, “If it’s your dream, go for it! But be careful to stay yourself. Be free and happy.”
Like Vanessa, you can resist the tyranny of slimming and celebrate real bodies, bodies that are healthy and natural. Because even if you’re not perfect, you are certainly unique.