The price of beauty

how she abused So­phie Ward reveals Squires Model and au­thor By Rosie quest to be beau­ti­ful. her body in her

CLEO (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

So­phie Ward was starv­ing. Tall, lean and beau­ti­ful, she was land­ing some of fash­ion’s most cov­eted jobs. But in­side, the teenager from Perth, who was scouted by a mod­el­ling agency with her sis­ter Gemma in 2002, was in pain. In a heart­felt story, So­phie has cho­sen to speak out about the in­dus­try she was once part of, re­veal­ing at the height of her mod­el­ling ca­reer, she was also in the throes of anorexia. Now 28 and work­ing as a writer in New York, So­phie warns the only “job re­quire­ment” for the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar fash­ion in­dus­try is an eat­ing dis­or­der.

A Sharper Edge

Ini­tially So­phie was thrilled to be ac­cepted into the world of high fash­ion. Then her life changed. “I’ll never for­get when my agent told me to ‘sharpen my edges’, re­fer­ring to my teenage body,” she says. “These words marked my en­try into dis­or­dered eat­ing. The first things to go were my favourite foods: Bread, cake, cho­co­late. This was heart­break­ing since my mother and I had a tra­di­tion of mak­ing de­li­cious sand­wiches af­ter we’d been for long swims to­gether. I told her to stop of­fer­ing me cho­co­late at night.” When So­phie’s fam­ily ex­pressed con­cern

Are we rais­ing women to be­lieve their beauty and bod­ies are their best as­set?

about her rapid weight loss, she paid no at­ten­tion. “I was be­ing re­warded for my ef­forts with paid mod­el­ling jobs. I kept re­strict­ing my diet. Lit­tle did I know I was now in the throes of anorexia.”

Dan­ger Zone

Ev­ery day, So­phie ex­er­cised ex­ces­sively. “I walked quickly for kilo­me­tres, fo­cus­ing on what I wanted to change about my body, sip­ping only wa­ter. On week­ends, I cy­cled up mas­sive in­clines, my chest heav­ing,’’ she says. “I drank litres of wa­ter, but my lips were chapped and my skin dry. My hair started to fall out af­ter a few months.” So­phie pulled a hip lig­a­ment from vig­or­ous ex­er­cise. “I was so weak I could hardly walk down the run­way.” But the in­dus­try ap­plauded her self-abuse. “My ef­forts at con­trol were mil­i­tant; de­grad­ing my sense of self­worth while the in­dus­try cel­e­brated me for it.”

Shut Down

So­phie says she was also abus­ing her mind. “Per­fec­tion and con­trol were the stan­dards by which I lived my life, a place where food was the en­emy and my body the bat­tle­field.” So­phie claims many girls in the in­dus­try had eat­ing dis­or­ders. “I lived with bu­lim­ics and binge-eaters ... We were all en­cour­ag­ing each other with our quiet col­le­giate bond. I couldn’t keep it up. Cer­tain or­gans in my body had shut down,’’ she says. “Like count­less oth­ers, I’d been swept away by the beauty myth, the prom­ise that we could just be bet­ter – or even per­fect – if we bought this or looked like that. Are we rais­ing women to be­lieve their beauty and bod­ies are their best as­set?”

Time To Heal

See­ing her­self on a pro-anorexia web­site was the fi­nal turn­ing point for So­phie; it took her three years to stop starv­ing her­self. “Em­pow­er­ing women to have re­silience, strength, and in­ner courage mat­ters most to me. We must dis­cover our own opin­ions free from oth­ers.”

SO­PHIE WARD TODAY, SO­PHIE IS A WRITER. BE­LOW, HER DAYS ON THE RUN­WAY WITH SIS­TER GEMMA. GEMMA WARD

SO­PHIE’S TOP MODEL SIS­TER, GEMMA, WALK­ING FOR CALVIN KLEIN

IN 2005.

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