The need to be thin and project a specific body image is something felt by most people, but for professional models, the pressure can be even more overwhelming.
Liza Golden-Bhojwani is a model who knows firsthand the pressure to be thin in the fashion world. In a recent Instagram post, she shared a side-by-side shot of herself from her teen modeling days compared to her current, fuller frame to display the stark contrast of living on only a few hundred calories per day.
Launching her modeling career at age 17, Liza writes that the black and white image of her on the left was taken at the peak of her career, when she was eating only 500 calories per day, including meals comprising only of 20 pieces of steamed edamame. “My first proper fashion week where I was actually the size I needed to be,” she writes. “I was booking amazing shows that one never thinks they actually could, walking with girls who I once looked up to, it was a serious adrenaline rush.”
Liza says that her 500 calories per day diet was ‘working,’ until she fainted in her apartment one day and decided to stray from the strict diet and workout regime. “I thought to myself, I can still be this thin, but I’ll just eat a little more so I don’t feel so horrible. Well, eating a little more turned into eating nearly a bag full of almonds, which then turned into eating full size meals, which then turned into a full blown binge. I was craving every single food you could imagine and I was giving in to every craving even though I knew this was such an important time in my career.”
The model went on to work Milan and Paris Fashion week, but found that her weight gain began affecting her ability to book shows.
She was named one of the top six models to watch in the freshman class by Vogue in 2013, a huge honour for any professional model, but found that her ability to book shows was decreasing. “As it turns out I ended up being a 36.5in hip by the time castings started and I was pulled out of shows, because at that measurement you will just simply not book any shows. People wondered what the hell happened, where did she go? Where was she on castings? Did she get an exclusive? The truth was no I didn’t get an exclusive, I just POOF disappeared.”
I’ve never said I am perfect, I have flaws whether it be character flaws or physical appearances. Most of us do, but that’s what makes us, US. But, I will say that I’m happy and in the grand scheme that’s what matters the most. Photo credit: the wonderful @VijitGupta #thisisme #mondaymotivation #loveyourself #effyourbeautystandards #bodypositive #lovetheskinyourein
Feeling like a failure, Liza writes that she thought her career as a high fashion model was over. “I had seriously just given up on my short lived HF career, because I just simply could not hack it. I don’t know why of all people I was just unable to keep up with the diets and the regimes. I thought I was weak minded, I didn’t care enough, or maybe I just didn’t want it enough. I beat myself up for a long time, playing it over and over again in my head how I completely failed.”
Liza began working in commercial fashion, including catalogue and website modelling, where there is less pressure to be thin. In 2014, she decided to give her high fashion career a second shot. “I wanted in again, but in a much healthier way. And I did just that, I worked my ass off day in and day out in the gym with different trainers and classes,” Liza writes. “In 2012 I was having about 500 calories a day, whereas here in 2014 I was having about 800-1200 depending on my mood and hunger patterns. I was the fittest I ever was in my entire career at this point, I had 6 pack abs, but still I wasn’t fit enough for the likes of VS or other brands.”
Growing increasingly frustrated by watching other models seemingly eat whatever they wanted without gaining weight, Liza decided to take a trip to India with friends. Within two weeks, she met her future husband and packed up her belongings to relocate from New York City.
Liza writes that this move convinced her to stop fighting her body and instead learn how to embrace her figure. “I was struggling to lose weight again, and one day I just thought… why am I fighting against my body? Why don’t I just go in the same direction? Stop forcing my own agenda and just listen to my body. And that’s what I did, slowly slowly I was coming into my true body form. My natural self, not my forced self. The picture on the right is me as of right now, my body as it is. Not perfect, not show ready or VS ready, not the best, but it is mine and my soul is happy.”