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