A new book by a former model who would sometimes go for days without eating in order to stay thin is speaking out about her experience with the hopes of convincing people to stop buying products from companies that feature dangerously thin models.
The Daily Mail is reporting on the story of Georgina Wilkin, now 23 years-old, who was “discovered” on the streets of London at the age of 16 and spent the next seven years of her life fighting anorexia and coming dangerously close to death due to malnourishment.
The 5′ 10″ teen weighed only 118 pounds when she was “discovered” and quickly learned that it wasn’t nearly thin enough for the modeling industry. On her second visit to the agency, she describes how every inch of her body was measured down to the tips of her fingers.
“I quickly understood that my body was merely a product, for people to examine and criticize,” she told the Mail.
Her first big break came when a Japanese agency chose her a photo shoot in Tokyo.
“I was really flattered when the Japanese agent picked me,” Georgina said. “She said I could go to work for her in Japan in two months time, on condition that I lose three inches from my hips and one inch from my waist.”
From that point on, losing weight became her mission in life. “The only food I allowed past my lips was salad and vegetables and I’d often go for two days without any food at all. I’d skip breakfast, spend lunchtimes in the school library and tell my parents I’d had dinner at a friend’s house so I didn’t have to sit down to a meal with them when they got home from work.”
Until she left for Japan, she would be photographed every two weeks in a bikini and told that she needed to lost more weight.
“The skinnier girls got all the bookings and I was even told I wouldn’t be able to work for jewelry companies because my fingers were too fat,” she said.
By the time she got to Japan, she was emaciated, and yet she was shocked to see that she was one of the “biggest” models there.
She roomed with a pair of Russian girls who couldn’t speak English and survived on energy drinks. On one shoot, she was photographed for a pregnancy catalog and had to wear a false, strap-on bump.
“I was a malnourished young girl being made to look like a pregnant 30-year-old,” she said. “Messages like that can be very damaging to a teenage girl, or indeed, any woman.”
Unfortunately, it would never get any better.
“Too often I’d be told by agents and stylists: ‘You could do much better if you were a bit smaller’ or ‘You’ve got so much potential, but it would be a good idea for you to join a gym.’ This sort of language seeps deep into a young girl’s psyche.”
She got to the point where she was so malnourished her lips and fingers were turning blue because of the strain on her heart to pump blood through her body. Instead of trying to help her, the make-up artists would simply disguise the discoloration with concealer.
And it wasn’t just her who was treated with such cold indifference. “I know of at least six other models I still see photos of on a leading fashion website who are also anorexic. They have the same telltale blue lips and hands,” she said.
Somehow, she managed to survive, but only after coming very near to death when her vital organs came under such strain she was at risk for heart and kidney failure. After a five-week stay in the hospital, she was force-fed back to a normal weight.
Georgina is grateful to have survived and wants to expose the modeling industry that came so close to killing her.
“Everyone should know about the pressure models are put under,” she said.
Her goal is help raise awareness among the public and believes the only way to prevent further abuse of models is for customers to boycott any label employing girls smaller than a size eight.
“I feel very lucky to have survived but it makes me really angry to see images of models who I know are seriously unwell due to eating disorders,” she said.
“Most high fashion brands have used anorexic girls in their campaigns and the only way this will stop is if we stop buying their products.”
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