Model Maker “Lose 80lbs in 3 months”.

As Fashion Week kicks off again here in NYC my attention has been grabbed by the reports of a new ‘Reality’ Show that is currently being cast by MTV.  Called ‘MODEL MAKER’ the producers are seeking aspiring models to lose 30-80lbs on TV. In 3 months.

The casting call states the potential contestants need a “Great attitude, a pretty face and the endurance to sweat off the pounds during a 3 month boot camp style show.”

The winner is the young woman who manages to lose the most weight in the allotted time.  This ‘lucky’ winner will ‘enjoy’ a prize of $100,000, a model portfolio and a personal trainer.

I don’t even know where to begin.  I am without a doubt a cynical product of my profession, it is hard to shock me, I’ve had to become conditioned over the years of my career to accept that if you choose to be a high fashion model then you must accept the rigors of body fascism that exist in the industry.  Or quit.  Some of you know that my personal story contains drug sustained starvation and years of bulimia.  

Even now as a determinedly healthy model I have to be disciplined in what I eat and how much food I consume. I’m used to it and it’s light years better than how I used to live, but it’s still not easy to maintain my little frame. And my body type is naturally slender.  There’s a reason why not many girls can become models.  We have an unusual body type.  I have a weirdly narrow ribcage, narrow shoulders and bony boy hips.  Most women DON’T have my narrow frame. Lacey, as stringently healthy and as disciplined as she is could never be as all over thin as I am: her skeleton is different to mine!!  Believe me when I say that even WITH my unusual body type it’s STILL NOT EASY to be this small.

This proposed show is not ‘The Biggest Loser’ where even though there is an exploitative element at least the focus is on helping morbidly obese individuals become motivated to learn and implement a healthy lifestyle to improve the quality of their lives, their families lives, and in some cases actually save them from an early death.

No, this show will take normal weight, pretty, insecure girls and tell them that the more weight they lose, the more beautiful and ‘successful’ they will become.

Let me provide some quick facts here; I’m sure you’ve heard them.  1-2lbs a week is the recommended amount of weight to lose for sustained healthy weight loss.  In the 12 weeks allotted for the show that would be ‘only’ 24lbs.  Not even enough to get you cast, let alone to win the thing. Even if you were the most motivated individual on the planet and could manage to lose 3lbs each and every week of the show without hitting a temporary plateau, that’s still ‘only’ 36lbs. The show calls 80lbs a desirable possibility!!!!

Now this 1-2lbs a week is not an arbitrary number: health, nutrition and fitness pros don’t just say it because they think it’s funny.  It’s the amount of weight you can lose without your body going into ‘starvation mode’ whereby it recognizes it’s being starved of what it needs and it dramatically SLOWS YOUR METABOLISM.  Which makes it harder and harder to lose the fat it likes to store. Which means you must eat even less. And less.

As an expert Fitness professional Lacey would tell you that there’s not enough exercise in the world that could make losing more weight than approx 30lbs in 3 months healthy.

As someone who has had very personal experience of this I can tell you that this show will be encouraging young women (most of whom will be well within their healthy range of BMI) to starve themselves, to throw up their food, to use diet pills, drugs, ‘fasting’ programs, colon cleanses and anything else they can think of to lose weight they probably don’t even need to lose in the first place.

What breaks my heart is that the carrot (which is about all they’ll be eating) they’re dangling in front of these young women: the implied promise of success as a model, the supposed validation that will come; That “If only”  they were a model, then they’d feel beautiful.  The money, the fame.  It’s not going to be ANYTHING like they’ve dreamed of.

The fashion industry is like every other business. It operates on the rule of supply and demand. The market is absolutely SATURATED with models.  We come from all over the world to work in this industry. In fact, I know of only a small handful of successful models that are American, and I live in NYC.  Even if you are born with an amazing face, even if you are born with an ‘alien’ type narrow frame, even if you’re really young and prepared to be permanently hungry, even if you have an amazing agent who believes in you beyond all else. Even with all those factors already lined up, your chances of hitting it big in the fashion industry and even getting close to the money and fame you may dream of are one in thousands upon thousands.  I’ve never met a model that hasn’t been told how IMPERFECT she is hundreds of times.  You don’t even know you HAVE so many flaws until you start going on castings. Talk about rejection; I’ve literally had thousands. And I’m a successful model with a profitable career and phenomenal agents.

I know that this is a new type of posting for SWEATCity, but I believe it to be so relevant to our lives, to the pressure we may feel under, and to the hopes and desires we have for our bodies, our lives and the lives of the people we love.  If this show makes it to the air I will boycott it with a passion.

I made a conscious choice NOT to use an image of a super skinny model to illustrate this posting.  You know what a starved woman looks like.  She looks desperately unhappy and she is.

I haven’t even touched upon the horrendous societal messages that this show is perpetuating: I don’t have the space.  Maybe you can contribute to that important part of the debate.

Just know this.  Being thin, even if you’re healthily small, will NEVER be the golden ticket to happiness for anyone. If you’re unhappy bigger, and you lose weight but don’t address why you feel that sadness or lack of direction, then losing the weight may initially give you a buzz but we will all always still be  the same person we were; until we deal with WHY we’re unhappy and stop pretending it’s our jean size.

True health and fitness is a FIT LIFE and that is so much more than thin.

As Lauryn Hill once sang: “How you gonna win if you ‘ain’t right within?”

Thanks for reading.


38 Responses to “Model Maker “Lose 80lbs in 3 months”.”

  1. 1 mr pinstripes
    September 5, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    WELL.. I THOUGHT YOU OCULD LOSE 2 LBS OF FAT PER WEEK PLUS OTHER STUFF… depends on what you’re losing though, be it mucus or water weight.. other stuff in your bowels. when i did the mastercleanse for example, i lost 15 lbs in ten days. ofcourse i weighed 200 so not likely to happen to a girl weighing 130 lbs but.. i didnt suffer any health problems and i definitly cleaned out my system well… it’s a shame i went back to binge drinking and eating sweets all day and night… my gut feeling is that these contestants will be closely watched and the hardest part of the show will be the grueling work outs which are good i think, it’s just if they starve them too obviously some people will have some serious side affects. the avg person doesnt excercise enough so weight loss will occur from increasing it.. same with me stopping to eat sweets 5 times a day (literally) and not drinking 6 drinks a day (for the last 3 months straight)

    shit sign me up haha.. i agree that it will only make america stupider and give people dumber convictions about what being pretty is but thats america for you and american television. whatever happened to “i feel pretty, oh so pretty” that’s my work out. sing a song and dance around

  2. September 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Great post!

    Reality TV has become so insanely unrealistic and as far away from reality as possible. I guess meeting all those expectations create drama and drama attracts viewers. I don’t watch TV but from what I read I gather people will do anything on this planet for their 15 minutes of fame!

    Most of the time I love myself lol, the way I look, I feel sexy, happy and healthy..It is all those inane comments from people that make me sad. Comments not directed at me but still find offensive. All my family and friends talk about is weight, thin, skinny, fasting, etc. As if a girl with 5 extra pounds who is curvy not fat is considered second class. Wake up and smell the coffee my dear ladies society is obsessed with anorexic looking people & that frustrates me cause of that at times I think Id rather trade places with those unhappy starving women even if it takes ending up at the ER.

    Peer pressure whooooo…..

  3. September 5, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    You are ridiculous Mr. Pinstripes… I don’t have the energy in my brain to respond to your post today, TRUST I have lots to say about what you wrote.

    BUT welcome back… it’s been a couple weeks! 🙂 🙂

  4. 4 cakelover
    September 5, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I second the motion to boycott. Well said, Doll.

    As for Mr. Pinstripes – oy. I wonder if perhaps you say things just to get a rise out of people, or if you really are just as ignorant as you sound.

  5. 5 ariela
    September 5, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Wow. Really? Really?!

    MTV has officially gone off the deepend.

  6. 6 Jen
    September 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Well said! I am so tired of watching networks put on show after show about the model industry. As an Agent, i always find these shows totally unrealistic and completely ridiculous…but of course i understand they are created more for the sake of entertaining than actually building real models. This however, is going too far. Aren’t young girls riddled with enough pressures to look a certain way? Peer pressure alone is enough to drive some girls past the edge. Now we’re actually encouraging eating disorders and creating body dysmorphia on TV?? What has happened to society…seriously! I am personally offended by a show like this. As an agent, i try to teach my girls how to maintain a certain weight by exercising and eating right. When one of my models is underweight, I send her home to gain some before she can come back to NY to work. When one of my girls is overweight (in terms of model requirements), I assess whether it’s possible for her to lose it in a healthy way before i recommend anything. As you mentioned, some girls are just not built to be models. This isnt a shortcoming or personal fault, it’s just DNA. Not everyone can be 34-24-34 and 5’10. I love shows like “you can look good naked” and even “what not to wear” because they teach women to be happy with the bodies they have and to show off their best assets. I also love “You are what you eat” on BBC america because it takes a detailed look at unhealthy, overweight individuals and an actual doctor details the risks of poor eating and lack of physical activity. Then they outline and implement an eating and exercise regime designed for HEALTHY weightloss. Subjects literally turn their lives around after 8 weeks on the program. I’m really surprised at MTV, to be honest. I was thrilled when they started airing the show “Exiled” which finally puts some of those bratty Sweet 16 kids in their place. I love shows like Made & True Life which i consider both educational and entertaining, so why are they now regressing? A network that reaches so many young, impressionable kids should really be more responible with their programming. Kudos to you Jess for taking a stand…i’ll boycott with you.

  7. 7 Jesse
    September 5, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Well said and I agree with you 100%. MTV is SICK for even considering such a show. I’m a yoga teacher in LA ( I know Lacey through Reebok) and I think your blog is fantastic. I am a naturally very thin person. As you put it, I have one of those alien like bodies.My body hasn’t changed much since I was 12. Students and young girls are always coming up to me asking me how I do it, what’s my diet like, if they do tons of yoga will they look like me. Part of my teaching is of course yoga, the other part is finding inner peace, love and happiness from with in. The first thing I tell people is that my body is a freak exception to the norm. The second is that just b/c I look the way I do I am no happier, my life is no easier, and we ALL have issues, ups and downs and STRIVE to find self love, inner peace and a way to cope and figure out our issues. We are all the same at a very fundamental core level-we are humans. This life is our journey. Educate yourself about good healthy lifestyles, be introspective and find a path that will allow you to love yourself. MTV’s show is sending a terrible and harmful message to people of all ages. They should be ashamed. Hopefully blogs like yours will reach more and more people. XO Jes

  8. 8 Eneb
    September 7, 2008 at 7:49 am

    You said we could ask questions. So to Jessica, how did you get that beautiful scar?

    As far as MTV, The worse is always still to come. Imagine what they’ll be teaching teens in 10 years? Scary.

  9. 9 jessica clark
    September 7, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Lol… Well thank you for the compliment. I got my scar when I was only about 2 years old; picked up a piece of broken glass, apparently to throw it away and promptly fell over. Instinctively put my hands up to protect my face and voila… put the glass through my cheek! All very traumatic for my poor mother. I of course have no memory of it except for it being part of my family folklore ;).

    And to the rest of the comments…wow…. exactly the kind of debate I was seeking. Thank you so much and let’s keep ’em coming!

  10. 10 nichelle
    September 7, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    My mom lost 62lbs in three months but she was morbidly obese and that was after she had gastric banding done. I can’t even imagine what pseudo-healthy ways they’ll use to try to get these girls, who are probably of a normal healthy weight, to drop that many pounds in 12 weeks. From a recovering bulimic, yes I know it’s possible. But can it be done while safeguarding the physical and mental wellbeing of these probably insecure women? Not a chance in hell.

    Wow. And I thought that FX show Starved (now cancelled. Yay!) was in poor taste. Thanks MTV for showing me just how low television can go.

  11. September 7, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I didn’t know a show like this was going to exist. There has to be something wrong with our world when there are already children, mothers, people starving wanting to eat food in 3rd world countries and NOT by choice…

    Well said, amazing blog. I’m glad to see that someone also cares about the condition of human life…

  12. 12 Tara
    September 9, 2008 at 4:34 am

    wow… that is unbelievable in the worst possible way. having been hospitalized due to anorexia nervosa at age 15, i can’t believe that MTV would purposefully induce the same feelings of worthlessness, disgust, and insecurity that I felt about my own body in other people, just for the fleeting chance to compete in an already brutal industry. it took me years to recover from my eating disorder and take pride in my naturally athletic body, and it kills me to think that even one of the girls on “Model Maker” might have to go through what I did. There are already too many negative images on TV; I can’t believe MTV, which influences so many teens today, would even consider running a show like this.

    On a completely different note, I just discovered this blog and think it’s awesome! I admire you guys so much for all that you’ve accomplished and the wisdom you’re willing to share. Keep up the amazing work, and I’ll definitely be stopping by to read more 🙂

  13. 13 Mary
    April 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Hi Lacey and Jessica!
    First of all, I just want to say that your blog is one of the best things happening to me right now. It’s so empowering both for fitness, love and life in general. Especially for me, who’s just opening myself up to what’s out there. I stumbled upon your blog just recently so pardon me if it took me over a year and a half to reply to your September ’08 post. But hey, things come to us when we’re ready to receive it, right? 🙂

    Anyways, with regards to this post,

    I resonate with Rebecca’s post that peer/media pressure does set in at times. I believe I have a fairly good figure but with all the attention people give to being thin, losing the weight, etc. I can’t help but feel I need to “catch up” with being really bone-thin instead of my normal curvy figure.

    I would have to say a big big CHEERS to Jessica for opening this up. It’s one thing to hear it from someone outside the industry and another thing to hear it from a successful model inside the industry. It gives the message more “umph!”, more validity. It takes a certain kind of determination and courage to stay disciplined in your course and sharing your journey with us. Thank you!!!!!!!! 🙂

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