A supermodel discovers the skinny about her livelihood—and makes the healthiest decision of her life.
They say the things you really like about modeling when you're starting out are also the things you begin to hate about it. And that was true for me: I had an opportunity to graduate from high school and then be plunked down in Paris or Africa or Rome—it was so exciting that I would have done it for nothing. But about six years ago, I started to feel as though I didn't have a sense of balance or a routine in my life. I was exhausted, and I missed my family a lot. I had also just achieved the biggest accomplishment of my life—quitting smoking. I had tried many times but always went back to it. Finally I just got fed up for not keeping my promise to myself, and I quit cold turkey.
Six months later, I was in Paris doing the couture shows. You often need to be thinner for those dresses than you do for ready-to-wear collections. I had gained a little weight after I quit smoking, but I didn't think too much about it. I spent the first part of the week going to fittings and doing shows. One afternoon I went to Yves Saint Laurent's atelier. It was a very formal setting, and I didn't know the people there as well as I knew those at other houses. I was escorted to a back room where fitting women basically put me into the clothes. As they worked, I heard them grumbling in French about my body because the dresses didn't fit quite right.
I remember coming out of the fitting room and walking for Mr. Saint Laurent. While I was by no means fat, I knew I was probably more voluptuous than they would have liked. But that happens: You leave one place and feel bad; you go to another, where the clothes fit differently, and you feel good again. I just assumed I was still doing the Saint Laurent show, until my agent called to say that the company had decided not to use me. I knew exactly why—they thought I wasn't skinny enough—which hurt at first but I shrugged it off. Then a couple of days later, I heard rumors that a Vogue editor had asked if I was pregnant. It was a strange moment: I saw the distance between what people in the industry were concerned about and what I was concerned about. I thought, Why am I allowing them to pick me apart and criticize me and my body after I've done such an amazing thing for my health? I realized I didn't have to do any more fashion shows; I could remove myself from this environment. That was my last week on the runway.
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013