Former Victoria’s Secret Angels Erin Heatherton and Selita Ebanks have come forward this month to talk about the dark side of the industry, specifically the expectations to stay unnaturally thin.
Heatherton, who worked for Victoria’s Secret from 2010-13, said on the “Fallen Angel” podcast that she resorted to hormone injections and a diet pill her therapist later likened to “bathwater meth” to stay extremely thin for the job.
A man Heatherton dubbed a “nutritionist to the stars” put the model “on this diet pill called phentermine,” she said, adding, “which my therapist later called ‘bathwater meth.'”
“I was just like, ‘Help me lose weight. What do people do?'” the 32-year-old recalled. “He suggested something this other model did that worked for her.”
Once a day, Heatherton was injected with a hormone that is naturally produced during pregnancy called HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, she explained, according to Cosmopolitan magazine. “I started like a diabetic injecting my stomach every morning.”
“There was this certain point where everything that I was doing just didn’t yield the same result. I was just a little bit bigger,” Heatherton discussed. “In retrospect, that’s just biology and how the body works. You’re not the same size when you’re 18 to when you’re 25.”
“I share my story again because I don’t want anyone to have an eating disorder or hate their bodies,” the model added, according to the Independent. “I know what that feels like. I speak out only for people that might hear me and think: ‘Hey, that makes sense,’ or maybe that might change their attitude towards how they treat themselves.”
Ebanks, appearing on E!’s “True Hollywood Story,” also spoke about the pressures to stay so thin that it was “not” “natural.”
“Modeling for Victoria’s Secret, there’s a code you have to follow,” Ebanks said, according to a sneak peek from E! News. “There is expectation to maintain the size, and unfortunately, we are going against Mother Nature. It is not something that’s natural, it is not something that should happen. It’s tough.”
The outlet noted that psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser claimed in the special that “she heard that some models ‘back in the day’ only ate an apple every 24 hours to maintain their trim physiques; such were just the beauty standards of the brand.”
Pushing some women to go to extreme lengths to be thin was the goal of becoming an “angel” for the brand. “I’ve been on many runways, but, to be a part of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, for me, was more than just a job. It was the highlight,” Ebanks said.
But when she finally became an “angel,” the pressure just intensified.
“My life changed drastically, like overnight,” the model said. “All of a sudden, people know your name,” she continued. “You find out friends that you thought were friends were not necessarily friends. A lot of other models didn’t think that I was deserving of this contract, so I had to basically fight my way into their circle.”
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