We often hear discussions about overly thin models and the pressures that go into maintaining a certain body shape. But a new eye-opening video puts a face to the stories and forces us to recognize the issue at hand.
"I was asked by my agency to lose muscle mass by not eating and not exercising," Zuzanna Buchwald, a model who has worked with top-tier brands like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Versace, revealed in an emotional video about her experience in the modeling industry.
In an essay reposted on the Daily Dot that accompanies the video, which is a part of the larger project, Real Women Real Stories, Buchwald states the key to success in the modeling industry: staying a size 0-2.
"If an agency catches the smallest weight gain, you are measured, told to lose weight immediately, and reprimanded," she wrote. "No one is guiding you on how to do it, no one mentions your health. No one tells you to stop when you start looking too thin. You develop an unhealthy thought pattern: The skinnier you are, the more desirable and valuable the industry sees you."
She explains how this caused her to develop two eating disorders, which led to her losing her period, having her hair fall out and her skin turning grayish.
"Even now, I have a very emotional relationship with food," she says in the video. "I was doing that because I wanted to work and I wanted [to] fulfill what was asked from me. But I didn't feel beautiful or powerful or strong at all."
Why speak out now? Buchwald hopes the video is able to help young models who are struggling with similar issues, advising them "not to listen to other people about the body that is theirs." This video comes a few days after former Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton spoke out about being told to lose weight for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
Buchwald also notes how unregulated the fashion industry is — something that needs to change.
"I have noticed that when agents realize that something is seriously wrong with a girl they represent, instead of investigating, they prefer to send her home and often replace her with a new talent," she said.
The Real Women Real Stories series was created to give women a platform to speak about issues that they once were silent about.
"Women's issues [and] wounds flourish in an atmosphere of secrecy, silence and myth. Speaking out can help end the false sense of shame and fear that they often carry," Matan Uziel, the creater of the series, said in an email. "Seeing a brave woman like Zuzanna Buchwald cast off the shame may inspire many women to do the same."
But the overarching idea is to call for some form of legal regulations of the industry, like France and Israel have already done, something that is long overdue in the American fashion industry, which is regulated rather informally.
"I am hopeful that the courage of our project and the women prepared to speak will agitate for legal change, and undermine, in a very powerful way, social myths about women's issues that promote acceptance of crimes, objectification, sexualization and oppression," Uziel said.