Model health has been a hot topic since the passing of the LVMH-Kering Charter; the bill approved by the French parliament in December 2015. Unfortunately, the battle is far from over.
In 2016, model-turned-writer and founder of mindovermodel.co Madison Schill spoke to Glamour magazine about her experience in the modeling world, revealing that being a model was making her so sick that she needed to take a step away from the industry. Madison explained that regardless of her efforts she was unable to maintain the ideal model look; with age came curves, and with curves came the decline in her career.
“Declaring that I couldn’t maintain my size brings about a deep-rooted shame—a testament to the ferocity with which I wanted to belong. To be the couture-wearing, high-fashion girl I’d dreamt of, I’d have to make serious, perhaps life-threatening adjustments,” Madison said.
While a model’s struggle to stay thin is largely publicised and often critiqued, we sometimes forget the importance of mentioning the critical health concerns they face. Consumers are often unaware of the process that models go through when trying to find success in the industry, from securing the necessary Visas for work to the countless trips across the world to become recognizable or to simply keep steady momentum for their career. The issue isn’t the lifestyle that they live, after all, this is considered desirable, even glamorous to many, but while working abroad, out of their home countries, they leave behind necessary fundamentals like access to basic health care. Canadian models, or foreign models from any region for that matter, living in the US for work often struggle to find affordable and easily accessible health care coverage, if any at all. It raises the question, how do we expect our children in this community to ensure that they are up to optimal health?
Vlada Dzyuba, a 14-year-old model from Russia, went into a coma after a 13-hour fashion show in Shanghai, China on Wednesday, The Siberian Times reports. She was rushed to the hospital and died Friday, October 2017.
The Siberian Times reports that the model had been on a three-month assignment in China, during which she was only supposed to work three hours a week; however, her modeling contract kept her working much longer. “No-one expected it to lead to such consequences,” Elvira Zaitseva, head of Vlada’s modeling agency Perm, told The Daily Mail. “We are now reaping what we have sown.”
While some may say that this instance is a rare one and that slave labour contracts are not of the norm, the fact that these models are more focused on keeping their employers happy and protecting their careers instead of going home to seek the medical attention they need is the issue I want to raise.
Rising Canadian model Aleece Wilson vents about her experience with this exact issue:
This is exactly what I was talking about the other day in my story about health and mental health . Vlada Dzyub had collapsed at a show and slipped into a coma , she passed away two days later due to exhaustion and chronic meningitis, she was too scared to ask for medical help and did not have insurance . Theres too many girls in this industry that battle with their mental health and physical but don’t do anything about it or are too afraid to say something to their agency , something has to change ! It’s so sad and I breaks my heart that she couldn’t receive the attention she needs . Like I’ve said before , life is full of endless opportunities, nothing is more important than you and your health! This really hits home for me , I haven’t been taking my own advice I’ve been sick for over a month now and I’m fearful that I will fuck up my career somehow if I go home to see the doctor which is pretty fucking stupid on my behalf. Please take care of yourselves and do whatever you feel is best for you ! #RipVladaDzyub 🌹
While change may not come overnight, as leaders in this industry we need to ensure that we are expecting the most of our peers and supporting our rising talent in demanding more attention to basic health needs for the younger generations to come.