health

Australian model Steph Claire Smith speaks about her binge eating disorder for first time.

Content note: This post deals with eating disorders, and may be triggering for some readers. 

She’s renowned for being the tanned, glowy, Instagram-famous model who has it all at just 23 years old.

But, as we’ve learned with so many others before, not everything has been as perfect as it seems for Melbourne influencer Steph Claire Smith, who on Tuesday admitted she has battled an eating disorder for years.

In an emotional YouTube video, Smith said: “It’s taken a while to get the confidence up to talk about this… body image, for me, has been such a long journey.”

That journey, the Chadwick model explained, took a precarious turn when she spent 10 months living in the US in 2014, and was confronted with the near impossible measurement standards New York models are held to.

When Smith walked into her US agency, to which she is no longer signed, for the first time in her career, she was told to “lose weight” and was put on a strict roster of bi-weekly measurements.

“They told me I had to work on my measurements, and being a new model I was all like ‘Yep, yep sure, I totally agree’," Smith told fans.

"I started working out even more than I already was... I started saying no to friends inviting me out just because I wouldn’t be in control of what I was eating, or what would be in the foods. I started to stay in a lot."

Obeying demands to eat less protein, and to do running or yoga as opposed to exercises that build muscle, Smith soon found she was shedding weight - but it wasn't enough to appease her agency.

It wasn't long before she became "super strict" with her diet, and "got into an extremely bad habit of binge eating”, where she had chronically disordered eating for months on end.

“Nothing that entered my mouth was unhealthy, but the amount that was entering my mouth was very unhealthy," Smith said, adding that her portion sizes and snacking habits were out of control.

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“It really affected my mindset... any time that I became stressed about anything, whether it was work or my body image or anything, I over-ate. I put on weight and then I’d just be depressed.”

Then, Smith said, she would 'punish' herself in ways she refused to describe.

"It got really serious at points where I was doing a lot of things people didn't know about," she said.

Listen: When being 'body positive' just doesn't work...

While she now has more clarity about the situation, and has gone on to achieve lucrative modelling deals with the likes of Adidas and Bondi Sands, Smith says she still has moments where she lapses into old habits.

“This has gone on and on and on for years and still affects me to this day," she said. "It was such an unhealthy cycle, I cannot even tell you the emotional roller coaster that I’ve been on for years of learning to love myself.”

Now, Smith has built a healthy-eating and body positivity movement 'Keep it Cleaner' with fellow model Laura Henshaw, where she encourages all girls and women to embrace their bodies.

“[This is] a problem that I have been fighting for a long time, and it’s not something that goes away quickly, because still to this day there are days where it comes back," Smith said.

"It's a lot better than it used to be, and a lot of that is thanks to Laura, and thanks to you guys."

You can watch the full video, here:

If you or a loved one is suffering with disordered eating, Mamamia urges you to contact The Butterfly Foundation here.

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