Over the next week for NEDAwareness I will detail raw, personal accounts of my time in the modeling and entertainment industries. These stories serve to inform and educate the masses about eating disorders, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, and what really lies behind the doors of the fashion world.
My twenty-fourth birthday had come and gone, and I could hardly recall any of it…at least anything honorable. Although I had set out to enjoy the evening sober and in an elegant fashion, by the time I saw myself dressed and sporting new gold stilettos from Bloomingdales, I couldn’t let the night unravel without the heavens spinning.
I wanted to get drunk, fast and hard. As usual my innocent plans ended in raging fights, binges on birthday food, party goodies and alcohol, multiple episodes in the bathroom for purging sessions and, ultimately, a blackout.
I had managed to hide my binging over the course of the night, and purging, I thought that to be a cinch. Because I was partying in the Miami scene, the bathrooms were continuously filled with people who were hurling the hard liquor they had churning in their bodies…at least I thought. I used that as my excuse every time I made the trip into one of the disgusting stalls. As the evening drew on, I looked and behaved like something out of a deranged circus show. I needed a team of people to help put my life together, however I continued to look for fixes in all the wrong places.
Spring had finally arrived. Outside the world overflowed with cotton candy skies, lush Hibiscus flowers swirled kisses to ethereal butterflies and rows of Royal Palm Trees bended and swayed to the rhythms of the sweet, salty air, that tangoed with the sunshine.
But inside, oh but inside, my reality was muted and bare. Moment by moment I was being strangled by the pasty walls inside Dr. Melbourne’s office. The thick smell of sterilization and cleaning fluids filled my lungs and brought me to a nauseating reality. Blood red. It was, in fact, the only color apart from the chalky white that was in this hell hole. Gallons of blood trickled from the bodies of hundreds of victims, just like myself, down through plastic tubes and into clear containers. With every drip into the container, another soul was exposed and washed away.
The only noise I could detect besides the frail beating of my heart was the maniacal tickings of the stale clock that hung directly above the wooden entrance. I was trapped, and if I wanted to escape, which I did, I would have to dash down the long hallway of slippery shame and face one beautifully altered nurse after another, explaining why I didn’t want to get my breasts enhanced.
Enhanced sounded so…so innocent, as if putting on a padded bra would have sealed the deal. But no, I was fully aware that soon I would be under the knife…again…and Dr. Melbourne…Miami’s finest, would cut and stuff large balloons of potentially harmful substances into my chest. All for the sake of…what?
I wanted to please. I wanted to feel better about my body. I had always wanted a larger chest. Now that not just one, but several of my agents had agreed and brought it to my attention that implants would make my career more successful, I was convinced I was making the right decision. I believed that after the surgery, I would finally be…good enough. I couldn’t tell what was more superficially inflated…my ego, or the sample implants enclosed in the glass case across from me.
Only a few months ago, I had walked through these same doors for rhinoplasty. Any fear that I had was replaced once Dr. Melbourne reassured me with a marker outline on my face of what my new and improved self would look like. As he held up the mirror, I was pleasantly shocked.
“That’s…that’s my new nose?”
He remained neutral and said nothing. Suddenly I dwindled into an eight year old, afraid and timid. I was an annoyance with my mouth.
“Yup! As I told you before, it’s not a big deal. Rhinoplasty is a common procedure. Especially with girls in your line of work.”
I felt…insulted on some levels, but I also couldn’t help noticing how seeing myself in a potentially new way soothed my emotions. As I turned my head from side to side, I believed that this surgery would fix all of my problems. No one could ever make fun of me anymore. I would book more jobs, and become a supermodel. Everyone at the agency would be astounded by my success. I could never be looked at as ugly again, and coming from a woman who as a child had been made fun of for her big nose, chunky cheeks and glasses, I felt that reducing my nose was a slap in the face to everyone…at work, and at home.
I’ll show them.
“I can’t wait to do it, Dr. Melbourne.”
A few months later, after weeks and weeks of lying in bed with bandages on my face like a mummy, I uncovered my new self. A reinvented me. Dr. Melbourne removed the layers to reveal a nose that was more petite, and in my mind, a me that was finally worthy and desirable. However, I was severely swollen and numb to the touch. Numb like my life. The surgery didn’t stop my binging, or purging. Although I saw myself with a new face, I was ridden with issues. I spent hours in the bathroom, obsessing over every little detail. The sadness and anger ate away at my skin, and I wanted to die. I contemplated suicide during my rehabilitation.
Pig. Now you look even more like a pig! Your nose is tilted!
I seriously considered a second nose procedure to correct the first one, but those sane around me talked me out of it.
Now, a hard raspy knock on the door brought back me to these chalky walls, and a life-sized doll stepped inside.
“Hello, I’m Theresa. Ms. Du-Boise? Du-DuBose?”
“Ok. Ms. DuBose, please come with me, we need to take your vitals, check your weight, etc.”
God, my weight.
As she turned out the door, I put my feet together and checked to see if my thighs were touching. I hadn’t eaten anything that day, in preparation for this very moment. My jeans were looser. I was down to wearing between a size two to four.
Just don’t look at the number.
We walked over to an area where a shaky scale sat. Fleshy eyes knocked and rolled all over my back as I took off my shoes and stepped onto the platform. Clenching my eyeballs shut, I squeezed my hands until I was sure I would burst into flames.
Please God, please don’t let her tell me the number. Please God, please don’t let her –
God wasn’t listening.
“123.” She scribbled some notes on her pad.
123, that’s actually not that bad!
Not my goal, but, not enough to send me into a tailspin at the moment, either. I lifted my flat chest a little higher, and, walked out of the torture chamber straight into the room of doom. I gloated in my number.
123, 123, 123, 123…
My glory, my shining moment was shredded to pieces, the moment she closed the door. Unbeknownst to me, she mentally whipped out her blood-spattered butcher knife and sliced me in half.
“123…that’s a lot for models, isn’t it?”