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.