Credit: Sam Ruttyn

Young models in the international modeling arena are frequently pressured to starve themselves, offered to take drugs and exposed to seedy sex trade, says Tione Hawkin, Australian model.

Hawkins left for Milan at 17 hoping to become Australia's next international supermodel but left the Italian fashion circuit disappointed.

In reference to the visits to Milan modeling agency, Fashion, she recalled, I was told; 'If you want to get this job, then don't eat for a week.

Stephanie Carta, one of Fashion's Australian model representatives was taken out from the Fashion Week parade after concerns were raised over her alarmingly thin frame.

I've seen girls who were definitely starving themselves. You don't sit around talking about it, but you don't get that thin by exercising and eating healthily. It was actually quite disturbing.

Hawkins says, I'm lucky I went; I don't want the work that much. I want to be alive two years from now.

She had chosen to leave the modeling world at 25 and will be welcoming the birth of her first child this week.

She and her partner, plumber Rod Sletten have traded the busy life of Elizabeth Bay for a peaceful life at Niagara Park, at the Central Coast.

Hawkins said models in Milan had to go for as many as 15 castings within a day and had to pay back the money the agency spent on their air fares from Australia with money they collected from modeling jobs.

When you're in Milan and you're a model, everything's for free - but everything has a price.

Back when she was in Milan, she witnessed her model flat mates taken out at night by older men.

Young girls were going out with 30 and 40 year-olds, getting into trouble with drugs and probably having sex as well.

It's a hard city for a young girl when you've been given all this stuff on a platter. It's hard to see that there's a price attached to it.

Hawkins won the 1998 Girlfriend Model Search contest at 13 years of age. Within a year, she was transformed from a lanky kid with crappy shoes who was bullied at school to a modeling star earning $150,000 a year.

We never had much money, so it was a big thing. I went out and bought myself a pair of brand-name shoes, and then I was cool. I fitted in.

Fast forward nine years in the future, with a portfolio that includes Elle magazine cover, editorial for Vogue Australia and Harper's Bazaar and numerous catwalk appearances across the world, Hawkins is finished with international modeling.

She has now limited herself to local catwalk and editorial work since a three-month stint in Munich, 18 month ago.

In the past couple of years, I've done only one or two shows, because I'm kind of over it, said Hawkins.