A former model has shared her story of shooting to fashion fame as a young teenager, exposing the worrying effects of the industry on young girls.
Kayley Chabot, who posed for the cover of Italian Vogue, along with walking runways for Chanel, Valentino and Calvin Klein, revealed all in a YouTube video titled ‘Behind The Modelling Industry’.
The 19-year-old spent five years as a model, which led to near-death experiences with her eating disorder and a drug and alcohol addiction.
Chabot explains that she first developed an eating disorder at age 11, before signing to a modelling agency in her hometown of Alberta, Canada at 13.
Once her career in front of the camera began, her condition began to get worse.
“I thought I needed to be even thinner now that I was a model, and models don’t eat,” she said.
At 15-years-old, Chabot flew to New York to sign with major agency Ford Models – but claims on her first meeting she was asked to lose even more weight.
“They told me it was my job to stay thin and have good skin and look good all the time and have energy and still be happy,” she alleges.
“All I heard was them calling me fat and saying that I wasn’t good enough”.
Chabot said pressure from her agency to lose two inches from her hips led to her eating disorder intensifying to the point where she was suicidal and so ill she had to be hospitalised.
According to her, she was asked if her body was “ready yet”, and despite protestations from her psychiatrist – telling her that modelling was “toxic” and “bad for her eating disorder – Chabot went back to New York.
“I wanted it so bad,” she said of her modelling career. “I wanted to feel important in the world.”
Once back at her agency, Chabot says she was put in a bikini and measured.
“I was so sick and so ill and they were applauding me for it,” she said. “They were applauding me for all the torture I put my body through.
By her last Fashion Month in February 2014, aged 17, Chabot says her feelings of isolation led her to hit “rock bottom”, consumed by addiction she spent all of her money on drugs and alcohol.
It was a trip home after her final Fashion Week that led to Chabot’s lifesaving epiphany – that she deserved to be happy.
“I didn’t want to put myself through what I had done before,” she said. “I didn’t want my agencies in New York or Paris to grab my ass or my thighs and tell me I was too fat.
“I decided enough was enough. I miss modelling but I do not regret choosing to put my health before my career and before money – it’s been the best decision.”
Since quitting modelling, Chabot went back to high school to get her diploma, spent time teaching health care to young children in Bali and is currently “feeling healthy” in her eating disorder recovery.
She hopes that speaking out about her experiences will lead to more protection for young girls in the modelling industry – a notion that has recently been taken to parliament in the UK.
“I thought I was a strong person when I went in,” Chabot said. “But when you actually go into it, you realise how naive you really are.”
Useful eating disorder websites and helplines:
Beat, call 0845 634 7650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
Need friendly, confidential advice on drugs?
FRANK, call on 0300 123 6600 or visit the website for alternative contact methods.