I have clear memories of partying in many “hot spot” cities around the world with dignitaries, celebrities, and my modeling agents. Often, I would fly from a city where I was working, do drugs for a weekend with my agents, then come back and work.
Sometimes, agents would stay at a house where I was partying and either give girls alcohol or drugs, or hang out while we did them.
None of these activities shocked me. Having already had an eating disorder and substance abuse problem since childhood, I didn’t know any other way to live; purging, starving and doing drugs were the norm.
Even though I knew it wasn’t a healthy lifestyle, I also knew that I didn’t choose to do those things over and over again. Eating disorders and substance abuse are not choices, they are mental illnesses with complex contributing factors .
Vulnerability for Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
At the beginning of my modeling career, I was quickly lumped into the “curvy model” category, and I hated that. I figured out that the more drugs I took, the more weight I could lose.
When I began modeling in Europe, I developed anorexia nervosa and struggled heavily with a cocaine addiction, among other drugs. As a teenager, I had abused Adderall as a way to shed pounds, but that wasn’t good enough anymore. I needed more and more drugs to not only get “high,” but to lose all of the perceived fat on my body.
I’ve been sober from drugs and alcohol for six years, and am currently studying psychology. I recognize a particular vulnerability amongst young people who work as fashion models, and believe that it’s that same vulnerability that makes them susceptible to using drugs, developing eating disorders, and so forth.
The modeling industry is a business that runs off of “big promises” and “dreams.” You have to be somewhat unstable going into a business where 99 percent of the workers never make a substantial income .
The Need for Regulation in the Modeling Industry
A significant portion of models develop eating disorders due to the unregulated business environment combined with the vulnerability factor, genetics, and so forth. So it’s not even a question really as to why models abuse Adderall, cocaine and other drugs to avoid eating, but when will they will do so?
Given the sensitive nature of many young people looking to “be somebody” and entering an industry that promises them riches and fame, it’s no wonder that they start using all sorts of drugs to cope and conform to peer pressure.
Some agents, managers and bookers not only encourage drug usage to lose weight, but are drug dealers themselves . This is what happens when you do not regulate an industry, which is why I, along with other leading advocates and organizations, tried so hard last year to pass California AB 2539, which would have given models employee status similar to working actors .
In what normal job is it okay to use drugs and peddle them to (mostly minor) workers in an effort to force them to lose weight? The modeling industry has to change.
About the Author: Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, advocate, and ambassador. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, details her recovery from trauma, severe mental illnesses and the dark side of the modeling industry. Nikki has been featured on television shows and networks such as The Doctors, The TD Jakes Show, CBS Los Angeles, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, and profiled in publications such as People, LA Times, Vogue UK, Esquire, India Times, and Inquisitr. To find out more about Nikki, visit http://nikkidubose.com/.
: Eating Disorders. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.drugrehab.com/eating-disorders/
: Ellis, B. & Hicken, M. (May 12, 2016). How the modeling industry exploits young and vulnerable workers. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/04/news/runway-injustice-modeling/index.html
: Zokol, S. (February 15, 2013). What Its Like to Sell Drugs at New York Fashion Week. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/selling-drugs-during-fashion-week-456
: Protecting Fashion Model Health: California AB 2539 (2017) Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/policy-translation/california-ab-2539/
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published July 6, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 6, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com