If tales from the modeling industry today leave you horrified, then prepare yourself for Carré Otis’s account of what it was like to work in the biz during the 80s and 90s.
Otis’ forthcoming memoir Beauty, Disrupted explores the model’s journey from anorexic, drug-addled teen to recovered mother of two–and the revelations don’t exactly reflect kindly on the modeling industry.
For one, according to an interview Otis gave to addiction and recovery site The Fix, it was her modeling agent Gerald Marie of Elite that first introduced the young model to cocaine as a means to control her weight. Otis says of the industry at the time:
“Cocaine was just what people were doing. You’re getting ready for hair and make-up and people are doing blow off the table. On top of that, you’re exposed to this grueling pace where your life is given up. You’re working until 2 AM and then going on go-sees all day. People used cocaine for weight maintenance, but also as a way of adapting to that lifestyle.”
She also says, “I’d love to say that’s not going on now,” which suggests that Otis has her suspicions this cocaine is still a problem in the industry.
The other heartbreaking part of Otis’ candid talk with The Fix, is her account of her 20-year struggle with anorexia, which resulted in heart surgery at the extremely young age of 30. “The doctor asked what my diet was like and I had to sit down and realize it’s not normal, and hadn’t been normal for about 20 years,” she told the website. “My eating disorder was so woven into my everyday life, though. With eating, you have to find a way to gain that freedom and [be able to have] that cake [without] saying, ‘I’m not gonna eat for three days because I had that cake.’”
Reading about Otis’ experiences as a model in the 80s and 90s while horrifying, also makes us realize how far the industry has come in terms of awareness. Certainly there are models who still struggle with the same issues (and bad influences) as Otis, but it’s no longer accepted in the way it seems to have been in Otis’ days. And for that, we’re thankful.