A former model and a top agent: Who’s telling the truth about the fashion industry?

If Sunday night’s episode of Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes taught us anything, it’s that “being beautiful can be very bad for your health”.

A segment about the real life of a runway model cast a light on the insidious eating disorders that are tearing young women apart, one by one.

French model Victoire Macon Dauxerre, 24, was once listed in the top 20 models worldwide. After being discovered window shopping on a street in Paris some seven years ago, the 5 ft 10 teen was dubbed the “next Claudia Schiffer”. A size 8, she weighed a tiny 58 kilograms, but was still told to trim down.

 French model Victoire Macon Dauxerre was 17 when she entered the toxic fashion world. (Image: Channel Nine)

"They never old me 'You're too fat', or 'You're overweight'," she told host Tara Brown. "They took the measurements around my hips and I was 92 centimetres, and they told me 'You have to be under 90'. Then they wrote 87cms on my comp card, so I had to lose two sizes of clothes in two months."

Desperate to meet her agent's ludicrous demands, Dauxerre deprived her body of food almost completely. In her own words: "I actually literally stopped eating... I ate three apples a day."

"I had osteoporosis, a skeleton of a 70-year-old woman. I lost my hair, some girls actually lose their teeth. You don’t have menstruations anymore. Some of my friends can’t have babies now," she said.

By the time she reached her agent's goal measurement - an American size zero, or an Australian size four, Dauxerre was in the throes of anorexia. Within eight months of being in the industry, she attempted to take her own life.

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"I just wanted to kill the loneliness and I didn't want to suffer anymore, and I woke up in the hospital the day after," she said.

So, why is such extreme thinness championed by fashion designers? Dauxerre, who has since written a novel about her time as a model, believes it's because fashion is dominated by male designers and agents, who want to "kill femininity" and "hate women".

Such are claims a vocal influence in the industry, the co-founder of Premier model management Carole White, denies. Notoriously outspoken, White insists models are not unwell, and are not pressured to be too thin.

"Skinny is not a bad word... skinny is not a word to sneer at," the 66-year-old told Brown.

"We're looking for a girl who's lanky and skinny, because that's really what the designers want."

"I would say, before everyone starts hammering these girls, we need to have scientific facts that models cause eating disorders, because I don't believe it," she continued. "No one is doing any proper research."

While Dauxerre says it is near impossible to be a successful model without an eating disorder, White says "most" of her models regularly indulge in "rubbish" and "Big Macs". Eating disorders are not an issue, she claims, because the average model simply has a "high metabolism".

"All agencies in the world really are clued up on things like nutrition," White said. "We make sure that our girls go to the gym up the road."

Asked whether it is "humane" to request women be a size zero, White retorted: "[The model] has her mind of her own".

She promptly stormed out of the interview, telling Brown "you're really annoying me".

As for Dauxerre, she has dedicated the last few years of her life to urging young women to remember what they're truly worth.

Victoire Macon Dauxerre's international bestselling book, Size Zero, can be bought on Amazon here

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