Former Canadian model Kayley Chabot is coming clean about her battle with eating disorders.
And according to her, the fashion industry was to blame.
Chabot, who has posed for magazines such as Vogue Italia, began her modelling career at just 13-years-old, and two years later was signed by Ford Models in New York — an agency known for discovering top talent like Naomi Campbell, Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson.
But while the young superstar-in-the-making was presumably ecstatic to head to the big city, she was met with a bit of a rude awakening once she arrived.
"When I got there the agency was shocked at my size," Chabot shared, according to the Daily Mail. "My hips were 37.5 inches and they needed to be 2.5 inches smaller. They basically told me I needed to lose weight and it was my job to stay thin. I was so young I took it to heart. I heard them call me fat and I pretty much stopped eating."
As a result, the Grande Prairie, Alta., native began taking laxatives, exercising for five hours a day and vomiting in hopes of remaining thin. Chabot also ate less than 500 calories a day, and at one point was even scared to drink water.
However despite her noticeably smaller frame, she claims no one at the agency ever encouraged her to stop.
"They thought it was just the sacrifice I had to make to become a successful model," Chabot explained, as reported by Metro. "I was just 15 and I was dying."
"At the agency, they put me in a bikini, which I had been dreading because I still thought I was fat, but instead everyone was telling me how thin I was and how amazing it was."
However, in 2014, after a show in Paris, Chabot put a stop to it all and said goodbye to the world of modelling, which she said was the "hardest thing I've ever done."
The now 19-year-old has come a long way since her days on the runway, and uses her experience to help others through social media. She runs both an Instagram page and a YouTube channel where she talks about healthy eating and shares vegan recipes.
But although she's recovered from her hardships, she still holds the modelling industry accountable for promoting unhealthy eating habits and unrealistic body expectations, especially when it comes to scouting young girls.
"I think if I had been older, it wouldn't have been so bad," she told the Daily Mail. "I was only 13 when I started in the industry and I believed anything people told me — that's the biggest problem for most young girls in the industry. We forget it's a business and not everyone has your best interest in mind, instead in their pocketbooks."
British model Georgina Wilkin shared her a similar personal story with The Times U.K. back in 2013.
"My agent told me I looked great when I hadn’t eaten for 48 hours," she told the publication. "At one point I was hospitalized because I was so ill — a few weeks later I was booked for a Prada campaign."
And like Chabot, Wilkin has since moved on from modelling, and is now working to raise awareness around these issues with Beat, a U.K.-based organization working to overcome eating disorders.
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