As a 19-year-old from a low-income background, I struggled with an eating disorder while trying to fit the mold of a model. I exercised daily and restricted my food intake to achieve the industry's narrow idea of beauty, but I never saw results. It wasn’t just because what I was doing wasn't helping me lose extra weight, but also because no matter how much I lost, it never felt like it was enough.
Having financial constraints made it challenging to eat healthy, and I often skipped meals, which only fueled my unhealthy habits. At the time, I never received a formal diagnosis for my disorder because I didn’t have insurance to access healthcare professionals.
I Felt Like I Was Battling My Own Body
When you are in a low-income bracket, gaining access to healthcare professionals and knowing about an eating disorder can be a significant barrier to getting better. I knew about binging and purging, but I never knew eating once a day and overly exercising was also an eating disorder named Orthorexia. Without proper support, it's easy to fall into unhealthy habits while attempting to conform to society's narrow beauty standards. When we repeatedly see the same body type in media and fashion, it becomes normalized, and anything that deviates from it can feel odd or abnormal.
I remember feeling like I was constantly battling my own body. No matter how much I exercised or how little I ate, I never felt like I was thin enough. I would constantly compare myself to other models and thought that I needed to measure up to them. The cycle was exhausting and only made me feel worse about myself.
Thinking negatively about my body robbed me of joy. As it became obsessive, I couldn't concentrate on the things in life that mattered. Self-criticism and self-doubt became a way of life that took time and energy out of my day when I could have done something better, like have fun.
Now, it's eye-opening to see who I have become, compared to who I used to be.
Accepting yourself makes life more pleasurable, and my identity changed once I accepted myself and my uniqueness.
The Modeling Industry Has Shifted Towards Inclusivity and Body Positivity
The modeling industry's strict beauty standards have had a profound impact on the way that women view their bodies. For decades, the industry has promoted an unrealistic and unattainable standard of beauty that leaves models feeling pressured to conform to unhealthy ideals. The result is an industry that often values appearance over health and well-being, with models pushed to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion to meet these unrealistic standards.
Thankfully, a shift towards inclusivity and body positivity has occurred in recent years, and models of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Brands have realized that diversity not only promotes inclusivity but also has the potential to increase sales.
Today, models are empowered to speak out against mistreatment or unrealistic demands. Many have called for a ban on overly thin models, and regulations have been implemented to ensure that models are treated fairly and respectfully. It's clear that the modeling industry still has a long way to go, but the progress that has been made is encouraging. Models with diverse bodies are now featured in major fashion campaigns and walking runways, breaking down barriers and creating new standards of beauty that include everyone, which is beautiful because we see more confident women in society.
There’s a Growing Awareness of the Impact of Eating Disorders
In addition to the modeling industry's shift towards inclusivity, there has also been a growing awareness of the impact of eating disorders on models and the general public. Organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) are working to raise awareness of the dangers of eating disorders and promote body positivity. They offer resources for those struggling with eating disorders and work to break down the stigmas surrounding mental health.
One of the most significant changes in recent years is the emergence of body positivity movements. These movements promote self-love and acceptance, regardless of body type or size. They emphasize the importance of health and well-being over appearance and encourage individuals to embrace their unique qualities. The body positivity movement has gained a significant following and has helped to challenge the unrealistic beauty standards that have been promoted for so long.
It's important to note that the modeling industry is not the only industry impacted by strict beauty standards. Many industries, from film and television to advertising and social media, have perpetuated unrealistic beauty ideals. However, the modeling industry has been particularly influential in shaping societal beauty standards and has played a significant role in how women view their bodies.
The evolution of the modeling industry toward recognizing all forms of beauty has been a long time coming. The shift towards inclusivity is not just a trend but a movement toward creating a more accepting and empowering environment for models and people alike. We hope that this trend continues and that the fashion industry continues to embrace diversity in all forms.
"Beauty is subjective, so Love yours."
WRITTEN BYStephanie Rosa