Linda Evangelista’s Story: The Cost of Beauty

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Surrealist portrait of young lady with art makeup

Linda Evangelista – a top Canadian supermodel from the ’90s and known as one of The Big Six along with Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer – has been in the press recently due to a botched cosmetic procedure. After disappearing from the public eye for several years, she’s finally opened up about why she’s been so off the map – and it’s raised a question within the fashion industry about the true cost of beauty.

Who is Linda Evangelista?

Linda Evangelista is thought of as one of the world’s original supermodels. Once one of the most photographed people in the world, Linda – originally from Canada – had the world at her feet in the late 80s and 90s.

Linda is famous for being the muse of Steven Meisei and for quoting that she wouldn’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day. She’s fronted over 700 magazine covers and is considered to be one of the most accomplished and influential models of all time. She still holds the record for multiple appearances on the cover of Vogue Italia.

Unlike her colleagues, Linda did not diversify into other businesses outside of modelling, instead choosing to remain as a model until her retirement in 1998. Linda’s whole career was built on her good looks.

Linda Evangelista was left "brutally disfigured" after a cosmetic procedure went wrong
Linda Evangelista was left “brutally disfigured” after a cosmetic procedure went wrong

What Happened to Supermodel Linda Evangelista?

Linda was trying to decrease a common sign of ageing – fat gain. While still naturally slim, she opted to pay for a Coolsculpting procedure to help decrease fat cells around her face and body. Unfortunately, this fat-freezing procedure (known as cryolipolysis and branded as ‘CoolSculpting’) had a rare side-effect known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). Instead of decreasing and shrinking the fat cells, they multiplied and expanded. Her goal of fat reduction had the opposite result; she wanted something reduced, and instead, it’s enlarged. She was told by a doctor that no amount of dieting or exercise would shift these abnormal fat cells. Even after undergoing two bouts of corrective surgeries, the results remain unchanged.

In her own words, Linda feels the procedure left her “brutally disfigured” and she become a recluse shortly after.

Finding Her Voice

On 22nd September 2021, Linda found her voice. She shared her story on social media platform Instagram in an effort to raise awareness and explain what had happened to her.

Evangelista has filed a lawsuit suing CoolSculpting’s parent company, Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc., for $50 million in damages, alleging that she’s been unable to work since undergoing 7 sessions of CoolSculpting from August 2015 to February 2016. She claims she wasn’t warned of the potential side effects.

“[Coolsculpting] has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self-loathing. In the process, I have become a recluse… With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story. I’m so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head held high, despite not looking like myself any longer.”

The Downside to Beauty

After going public with her story, the now 56-year-old Linda received a lot of support from the modelling industry. Celebrities, photographers, brand owners and models alike commented words of support in their droves.

But unfortunately, Linda has also faced some backlash from the public. Some may question why something as trivial as weight gain could push someone to such extreme emotional lows. We all experience weight fluctuation; why has Linda had such an extreme reaction? Is it pure vanity and ignorance?

Well – no.

While Linda’s story has certainly opened up questions and concerns about cosmetic procedures that are becoming more popular, it’s also had many people questioning the downside to being reliant upon one’s beauty.

It’s important to remember that Linda’s whole livelihood has been built on her beauty. She has experienced pretty privilege her entire life and has made her fortune based purely on her stunning looks. Unlike her peers, Linda does not have any other businesses to fall back on; her achievements and her legacy are based on what she looks like. To lose that in such a traumatic and unexpected way must be a huge shock. Losing the privilege that one has been accustomed to their entire life can not be an easy or enjoyable adjustment.

Linda certainly still has more privilege than most; her legacy and huge fortune are both something that many people can only ever dream of. But this doesn’t take away from her very valid feelings on the matter. Linda has suffered some extremely low emotions due to the impact of this event.

So how can aspiring models avoid this?

Taking Care of Yourself As a Model

As a model, it’s your responsibility to ensure you are mentally equipped to take on the more taxing elements of the job. This includes criticism (not always constructive, but often cruel from strangers online), negativity and the fact that, one day, the thing that you based your career on (your good looks) may one day disappear.

Many models do this by talking to friends or family. It’s important to have a strong support network around you so you feel validated, grounded and secure.

Some may even go to a therapist. You don’t need to be “poorly” or depressed to visit a therapist; they can be great for use as a sounding board to keep problems in perspective. They can also provide you with tools and techniques to stop negativity from getting on top of you.

It’s also a good idea to have some backup plans in place for if you decide to move on from modelling. Many models nowadays have multiple ventures; Tyra Banks become a TV presenter, Christy Turlington founded a charity, Cindy Crawford expanded into acting and business… regardless of whether these ventures make you money, it’s important to find other things that bring your joy and fulfilment in life.

Model Linda Evangelista spent her whole life benefitting from her beauty; unfortunately, the unexpected and life-changing removal of this meant she struggled for a while to come to terms with her “new” self. Now, it sounds as though Linda has finally found her voice again – and hopefully along with it, her confidence.

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