Protecting Your Mental Health as a Model
No Comments • Uncategorized • By Melissa
Recently, Australian supermodel Bridgett Malcolm has spoken up about the negative impact modelling has had on her mental health. In particular, she has spoken about Victoria’s Secret and the toxicity that she endured when working with them back in 2015/2016.
And it’s not just Bridgett. Many models have voiced concern about the negativity seen in the fashion industry. Naturally, this can have a detrimental effect on a model’s mental health, with some developing eating disorders, anxiety, unhealthy relationships with their bodies and even depression.
So how does a model protect their mental health in such a difficult industry?
It can be very difficult to ignore the toxicity in the modelling industry, particularly when it comes from higher-uppers in the business. Often, young and impressionable models are told they need to lose more weight. Bridgett says she was told to take drugs as a way to assist in weight loss. Clearly, this is a very unhealthy and negative thing to be telling young people.
As a model, your health should be at the forefront of your mind. A model must look a certain way to succeed in the industry, that is true; but it should never be at the detriment of their health.
To avoid this, a model should take the time to truly learn about health. Nutrition and exercise are key parts to having a healthy body; talking to a dietician or expert nutritionist will help you learn healthy eating habits.
A personal trainer will also be able to show you the best workouts for your body. They can show you not only how to tone and sculpt your muscles, but also how to straighten your limbs, joints and tendons. Contrary to what you might think, modelling can be a very physically demanding job – you need to fuel yourself properly to keep up and have the energy to keep going.
Nutrition and exercise also impact our mood and mental health, so there’s even more reason to seek professional advice as a model.
Mental health is something that is being spoken about more commonly, but still not enough. The fashion industry can be cruel; it is competitive, strict, unyielding and often brutal. You must have self-confidence and healthy self-esteem to be a model, or you may struggle to cope.
If you have built a foundation of fitness with a healthy eating and exercise plan, the next steps are looking after your mental wellbeing. There are several things you can do regularly to do this:
– Check in with yourself. Note how you are feeling and your emotions on certain days. Sadness is a common emotion, but take note of whether you feel sad for a reason, or just in general.
– Ensure you get the right amount of sleep each night. This varies from person to person; the average person may function fine on as little as 6 hours a night, or they may need as many as 9 (J Lo claims to get at least 8 to 10 hours each night). Figure out what works best for you, and stick to it – having a good bedtime schedule will help.
– Talk to a therapist. Bridgett Malcolm claims to wish she could have told her younger self to talk to a therapist. A therapist can really help you organise your thoughts.
– Take time away from social media. Social media can have an incredibly detrimental effect on your mental health, especially if you’re in the habit of comparing yourself to others. It might help to unfollow people who regularly make you feel bad about yourself.
– Talk to your friends and family. Have a strong support network. Find the time to stay connected to the people you love.
– Tell someone if you start to feel sad, especially if you can’t find a reason for it.
– Try to have a daily routine of healthy habits. Drink lots of water, try to avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, don’t smoke, eat enough healthy and nutritious foods, move your body in some way (even if it’s just for a quick walk to get some fresh air) and get enough sleep.
– Try meditation. It’s not for everyone, but many people love the clarity it gives them. It can help you relax and often helps to clarify things. Yoga, too, is great for people suffering from panic attacks or anxiety; it’s proven to help people reconnect their minds with their bodies, allowing them to regain control of themselves.
– Never feel guilty about needing a break. We are all human, and we all need proper time to rest and recover. Manage your workload effectively; if you can’t, you might need to say no to a few things – and that’s OK! If you work too hard without any rest, you’re asking for trouble. Allow yourself to relax – you deserve it.
– Listen to signs from your body that things aren’t right. Struggling to get to sleep, or sleeping too much, lucid dreaming, your period stopping, feeling constantly exhausted – these are all signs that you’re overdoing it.
– Set boundaries. You alone know what you need, what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. If you need to set certain boundaries to ensure your good mental health, do it.
– Accept who you are. The modelling industry has a bad habit of asking too much of some models. We are all built a certain way, and there is only so much we can change. The majority of us would never be able to obtain the figures required for supermodelling, even with a strict diet and exercise routine. It’s important to accept this – and remember, there are many other options out there, like commercial modelling (which tends to be more relaxed).
– Never be afraid to ask for help.
Being aware of yourself will really help you keep on top of your physical and mental health. This often comes with time and experience – but the more you can learn now, the better.
Read up about the modelling industry – the good, the bad and the ugly. The more you are aware of, the better you can protect yourself.
Ask for opinions from models who have previously worked with certain people or companies. If you get consistently negative feedback, you’ll know to steer clear.
Always read contracts back to front before signing them. Never sign something if you are unhappy with it, or if you feel uneasy about anything.
Remember that you can walk away at any time. Never feel pressured into anything.
Remember – the modelling industry isn’t for everyone. You need a strong stomach and a lot of self-assurance to remain yourself. Your health should always be a priority over any job or career.