By NICKY CHAMP
“THINK models are effortlessly perfect glamour magnets lapping up the good life?”
Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question posed by former model Carré Otis in the September issue of Vogue Australia.
Eating disorders, sexual trauma and abuse, airbrushing, emotional abuse, drug addiction: they are all part of the 44-year-old’s explosive tell-all about the modelling industry in the heady supermodel era of the late 80s and 90s.
In a time before the internet, young girls (some as young as 10) would send Otis fan mail asking her what her workout and diet secrets were because they were “dying to look like her.”
Instead of answering them truthfully, Otis would cite a healthy diet and exercise regime – the one often touted in women’s magazines – when in reality, she was starving herself to maintain “a body that nature simply did not intend for [her] to have.”
“The heavily guarded truth was that I exercised a minimum of two hours a day, seven days a week. On days when I wasn’t working, I did double duty, going to the gym twice in one day.”
“I said I ate oatmeal for breakfast, chicken and veggies for lunch, and fish and salad for dinner, along with a healthy snack like yoghurt.
“But in reality, my big diet staple was four to six cups of black coffee per day, avoiding even a splash of skim milk since I was terrified of extra calories. And to stave off hunger, I went through a few packs of cigarettes daily.”
Sadly, in an industry that values thinness over well-being, the validation she needed to continue a harmful existence came in the form of compliments and more modelling work.
She maintained an unhealthy and dangerous attitude towards food for more than two decades, and it ultimately landed her in hospital.
“One morning, I was sent to the emergency room with heart palpitations and an irregular heartbeat – a culmination of 20 years of starvation. Turns out I’d created three holes in my heart and I needed an emergency ablation surgery.”
She was quite literally dying to look good.