A model asked me, “How can I maintain a healthy body image in an industry that says they want healthy but really wants skinny?”
Here is my reply:
A healthy body image has to do with knowing that you are beautiful on the inside. If a healthy body image was determined by people’s looks alone then all models would already have a very healthy body image. They do not. I did not. I did campaigns for Maybelline, Revlon, and Gucci to name only a few and my body image sucked at the time.
I’ve learned a ton in the twenty plus years since being on covers of magazines and jet-setting around as a supermodel; thank-goodness because it was awful hating on my body. Maybe, just maybe, I can save you years of torturing yourself, years of obsessing about every little millimeter of your waistline, years of hating on your body, and years of thinking that you will finally feel good about your body if you achieve some illusive measure of perfection. If this sounds at all like you, and be honest, then please open your heart and accept this truth: “You are beautiful inside and out. You’re self-love can only come from inside of you. And self-love is truly what will give you the happiness and self-acceptance you long for.”
Some of us learned to be critical of our bodies from our families either directly or indirectly. If our parents were concerned with their weight and beat themselves up about it then we probably learned to do that as well. We’re not going to blame them. If our parents knew how to be kinder to their own self they would have been. Then of course there is the media. Sigh… Yup, we as models are a part of that and still may lead the pack in self-criticism. Well, we have some idea where poor body image originates. Now what? Are we just screwed? NO. Here is an exercise to raise your body image and self-esteem in general. Think of it as a bicep curl for creating a healthier body image.
Body Image Exercise:
Look in the mirror. Smile on purpose. Tap the center of your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Say out loud, “I am beautiful inside and out.” Again. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Say out loud, “I am beautiful inside and out.”
Do this everyday, especially first thing in the morning. I encourage my clients to write out the exercises I suggest to them and tape them up on the bathroom mirror. This is a great place for a reminder!
Having said all that, I realize you want to have a healthy body image and be thin enough to model. Right? Let me start by saying that, in my opinion, being thin is NOT the same as being ‘model skinny.’ This is life in the fashion world today, and if you want in you have to conform to the size standards the industry creates. It may not be easy, but it is doable with the right habits and, most importantly, mind-set.
There is a small percentage of women who are model skinny naturally- very small. There is another percentage that has a belief and practice of eating that lends itself to maintaining a super thin physique. This group eats a vegan diet consisting of no processed foods, also known as “a plant based, whole foods diet”. An even smaller group eats a raw vegan diet with no grains at all.
So let’s say you do not fit into this minority and being ‘model skinny’ is a chore for you…. Now what?
I fall into the category of more mainstream eaters and, let’s just say, I am not immune to busting out of my pants if I don’t watch it. It took me awhile, but I figured out how to be model skinny healthfully by applying major discipline and a plethora of tricks and strategies. Here are a few things that I made part of my healthfully thin lifestyle. Seriously, not just when I was in ‘tone up’ mode, but ALL the time. It’s a lifestyle.
1. I ate a real breakfast! Oatmeal, an egg, and some fruit and raw vegetables. Ditched the muffins and bagels. (Sorry!)
2. I included protein at every meal.
3. I ate my calories; I didn’t drink them. Even a glass of orange juice has 25 grams of sugar or more. Don’t even get me started on lattes, mocha-chinos, or sodas.
4. I worked out 5 days a week for an hour. No more. Then on the 6th day I’d take a walk or a gentle yoga class.
You’ve probably have heard all these “Staying Thin” tips before but if you can make them into rules you live by, it will help you to fit into those “model skinny” clothes.
So the combination of having a healthy and loving approach to yourself is the key to a healthy body image as a model. Repeat after me. “I am beautiful inside and out.” And you are!
Be well, be nice to yourself and have fun,
Read more about modeling at http://slenderbreadmag.com