A model recently posted a before and after photo on Instagram that reveals how dangerous her career really was for both her mental and physical health.
Liza Golden-Bhojwani posted on March 2 a side-by-side photo showing her "at the start of the peak of my [modeling] career" on the left, compared to her current self on the right — and the contrast is shocking.
"I was craving every single food you could imagine ..."
Golden-Bhojwani reveals in a lengthy caption (continued in her comments section) that the "before" photo was taken when she "was actually the size I needed to be."
But she was only eating a mere 500 calories a day and having meals consisting solely of "20 pieces of steamed edamame if I remember correctly." An average woman typically needs about 450-550 calories per meal, not per day.
It wasn't until she fainted in her apartment that she realized she was hurting herself, and thought she had the solution: "I called it quits with the diet and workout regime I was put on and decided I could do it on my own. I thought to myself, I can still be this thin, but I'll just eat a little more so I don't feel so horrible."
But as is the case with disordered eating, it wasn't that simple.
"Well, eating a little more turned into eating nearly a bag full of almonds," she writes, "which then turned into eating full size meals, which then turned into a full blown binge. I was craving every single food you could imagine and I was giving in to every craving even though I knew this was such an important time in my career."
Because her job depended on her weight, she soon began tormenting herself in an effort to stay the fashion industry's desired size. She found herself going up and down in size for two years. In 2014, she admits she "wasn't fully starving myself like I had two years ago," but she was still obsessive about food. "I still kept a diary of exactly what I ate everyday and I would tally up the calories at the end of the day," she wrote.
Despite this, "still I wasn't fit enough for the likes of Victoria's Secret or other brands," she added.
Eventually, Golden-Bhojwani realized she needed to work on herself, and not work in the fashion industry. She actually moved to India and that's where she had her revelation:
"[...] one day I just thought ... why am I fighting against my body? Why don't I just go in the same direction? Stop forcing my own agenda and just listen to my body. And that's what I did, slowly slowly I was coming into my true body form. My natural self, not my forced self."
Today, she lives as her "natural self," no longer fighting against her body.
As she freely admits in an Instagram post on March 1, "It is not always easy to stay positive or even body positive in the industry that I have been in for nearly 10 years. Most days I'm on fire, but sometimes I do feel low/worthless/fat/ugly/washed up [...] No matter what the reason may be, I want you to know that it's okay to feel like shit some days, everyone does. Just pick yourself up and dust that shit off, because you are beautiful and you are worth it!!"
One Instagram comment on her viral post nails what most people often forget about the fashion industry.
"The modeling and fashion industry is literally killing girls," Instagram user bbblakes wrote.
Sisters Luisel and Eliana Ramos, both models, both died of heart attacks due to suspected anorexia in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
Hila Elmalich died in 2007 after losing her battle to anorexia. She weighed less than 60 pounds.
However, not every working model has anorexia or some form of disordered eating or is unhappy in their career. Golden-Bhojwani, however, realized this was not the career or life she wanted.
Now, "I workout five days a week," she writes, "but there are times when I don't due to injuries, or travels. And you know what? That's just fine with me. I do it solely for myself, not for my job anymore. I eat what I want and I feel no guilt. And for me that's a good feeling. Maybe I wasn't made to be on the covers of magazines and shooting the biggest and best brands, but I was made for a reason. I do deserve to be happy and feel fulfilled. We all do. Maybe I was made to share this story and spread the message of body love to all the women out there struggling."
If you or someone you know needs support, resources or treatment options for an eating disorder reach out to the National Eating Disorders Association at 1-800-931-2237 to speak with a trained helpline volunteer for assistance.