Behind the glitz and glamour the fashion industry can be ruthless and demanding, often pushing its models – many of whom are women – to great extremes so they can ‘fit the bill’ and ‘walk the runway’.
In an image-conscious industry so many of these models are expected to reach unrealistic body goals which often end up being detrimental to their mental and physical health.
So it’s not surprising to find out about the story of American model Liza Golden-Bhojwani, once voted into the Freshman model class of 2013 by Vogue, who attained her dream job but at a high price.
The international model, who now lives in India, was only consuming 500 calories a day to be ‘the size I needed to be’ and make the cut for fashion shows in New York, Paris and London. According to Healthline the average woman needs to eat about 2000 calories per day to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Eventually, the strain of Liza’s diet took its toll on her, as well as the intense dieting she was required to exercise constantly as well which led to fainting spells.
Showing strength and independence, Liza decided to stick to her training but go it alone.
Basking in all the glory the sun has to offer ? Yes, my stomach looks a little strange here. Because I'm laying down, my extra fat has squished together and has left me looking like I don't have a belly button or I've photoshopped my stomach ? But the truth is I haven't, this is me in my natural form when I'm in a reclined state, and guess what? It's normal. Own your "imperfections" no matter what they may be! ? #shineon #travelgram #lovetheskinyourein #bodypositive #bodylove #imperfections #sunseeker #normaliseus Captured by: @thirdeyejedi
She later shared a photo via Instagram showing her transformation where she claimed she was healthy and happy as she had embraced her ‘true self’.
Describing her desire to stay the size required by the fashion industry Liza wrote:
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.
She walked the New York and London Fashion Weeks, adding how she:
… could see the pounds starting to show both in the mirror and on the measuring tape but I kept quiet obviously not wanting to sabotage myself.
Despite gaining an inch around her waist, Liza was still booked for shows at Milan Fashion Week where she walked the Dolce & Gabbana catwalk. It was there where she received criticism online for looking ‘fat’.
A little flashback Friday action for you. This caption will be long and won't fit, so if you'd like to read please find the rest in the comment section….The left side was me at the start of the peak of my career. My first proper fashion week where I was actually the size I needed to be. 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…but after fainting one night in my apt whilst preparing one of my very low cal meals (I think it was 20 pieces of steamed edamame if I remember correctly), I called it quits with the diet and workout regime I was put on and decided I could do it on my own. 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. I made it through NYFW okay, no one had noticed any weight gain, but by the time I had gotten the LFW I could see the pounds starting to show both in the mirror and on the measuring tape, but I kept quiet obviously not wanting to sabotage myself. I found myself going to the grocery store and picking up raw vegetables to try and make up for the near two week binge I had in NY, but I didn't see any weight coming off no matter how "healthy" I was eating and no matter how many workouts I fit in. MFW came and I knew I was bigger and by bigger I mean a 35.5in hip rather than the 34.5in hip I started with in NY, I played it cool and just pretended everything was normal. I did end up booking shows, Dolce & Gabbana being one of them. Which I afterwards received online criticism about my thighs looking fat…Anyways PFW came about, and I found it impossible to resist those chocolate croissants ? I went on many a casting with one exclusive option being on my schedule, but after meeting the client I knew the reason for me not nailing the gig, my size…
By the time the next Paris Fashion Week rolled around Liza says she:
… went on many a casting with one exclusive option being on my schedule, but after meeting the client I knew the reason for me not nailing the gig, my size…
Around this time Liza had gained an extra inch on her waist, becoming healthier and happier, she ‘had seriously just given up on my short-lived high fashion career’ because she ‘simply could not hack it’.
Liza recalled her devastation, saying:
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. So much was right there in front of me, and I just let it go because I could not let go of my worst enemy, FOOD.
However, she was determined not to give up on her dream job nor conform to the brutal regime which required her to ‘get in shape’. She was going to do it ‘but in a much healthier way’, her way.
After ‘working her ass off in the gym’ and eating between 800 and 1200 calories a day, Liza was the fittest she’d ever been, but, sadly, it wasn’t good enough for the high fashion industry.
She remembers the emotional trauma left her ‘really in a bad state of mind’ where she was feeling ‘negative, depressed, overly emotional’ and ‘miserable’.
She left for India to do some soul-searching and came back refreshed and ready to work with her body to achieve her fashion dreams.
Liza says she:
… 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.
Since then she has learned to love her body, coming to the conclusion that even though it was ‘not perfect, not show ready or VS ready, not the best’, it was still her body and her ‘soul is happy’.
She now models for so-called plus-sized fashion brands – as well as those who don’t discriminate against or pigeon-hole women for their body shapes.
She still works out five times a week, but it’s for her own happiness instead of using it as a catalyst for her career. Furthermore, she eats what she wants without guilt.
After a career-long struggle Liza came to the realisation:
Maybe I wasn’t made to be on the covers of magazines and shooting the biggest and best brands, but I was made for a reason. I do deserve to be happy and feel fulfilled. We all do.
Her story has since been meet with floods of support from other women who have experienced eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and who are suffering the burden of influence from a warped perception of beauty on a daily basis.
Maybe I was made to share this story and spread the message of body love to all the women out there struggling.
The model is breaking down the body barriers constructed by fashion – looking and feeling fantastic as she does.
We salute you.