The fashion world is widely known to be ridden with controversy, from, and most recently, a lack of diversity, to underage or unpaid workers and the timeless discussion about models being too thin -- recently a former Vogue editor claimed that models eat tissues to stay thin.
But the latest in sartorial scandals unfolded last week when a top model disclosed harrowing details about the industry, revealing, in a British newspaper exposé, that models sometimes pull out their teeth to look thinner.
Model Katia Elizarova, who was linked to “Star Trek” actor Benedict Cumberbatch, told The Sunday Times that she along with other models overseas were weighed each day after eating lunch. And though many of the models were pin-thin already, some resorted to doing drugs and pulling out their teeth to make their faces appear more slender.
"When I was in Japan they weighed me every day after lunch, so I felt horrible," she told The Sunday Times. "But I did know girls who were bulimic, who used cocaine to make their cheeks hollow. Some girls pulled out their teeth to look thinner."
Elizarova, 27, also said that modeling agencies often do not pay their models and encouraged the models to go out with older men.
“There are people who try to bring you into clubs to attract the attention of older men,” she said. “This is not a nice part of our job. If you’re a model and your agency hasn’t paid you in months, you don’t have anything to eat -- and then someone comes over and says, ‘We’re doing free dinners in the club, come and bring your girlfriends,’ of course you go.”
She said that the girls often engage in this occupational risk because they are left with few options. “Then you have 20 men perving at you, but you’re so hungry you don’t care,” she said.
Elizarova, who has worked for the likes of Chanel and MaxStudio, was discovered in her hometown of Saratov in Russia at just 14 years old. Since working in the modeling industry for 12 years, she has moved on to acting, currently starring in a Fox reality show called “Meet the Russians.”
The Daily Mail reported that Elizarova is now working to help models who are exploited in the industry, most recently participating in a debate at Oxford Union in the U.K. about being a size 0.
Of course, this isn’t the first leak about secretive dirty deeds happening behind-the-scenes in the fashion world. In April, Kirstie Clements, a former editor of Australian Vogue, penned a tell-all book that exposes the cutthroat -- and dangerous -- world of top fashion modeling. In “The Vogue Factor,” Clements, who was fired from Vogue after a 25-year tenure, said models resort to eating tissues to stay thin.
Clements documented one top model, who had been working on a shoot for days, didn’t touch one bit of food.
“When a model who was getting good work in Australia starved herself down two sizes in order to be cast in the overseas shows ... the Vogue fashion office would say she’d become ‘Paris thin,’” she wrote.
She later revealed to The Guardian that this type of harmful behavior -- which includes models going on hospital trips as an alternative to eating -- is common and extends far beyond bulimia and starvation. Clements said these dangerous habits have resulted in even more dangerous consequences, which models brush off as part of their model lifestyle.
“I was dressing a model from the U.S. on a beauty shoot, and I noticed scars and scabs on her knees,” Clements wrote. “When I queried her about them, she said nonchalantly: ‘Oh, yes. Because I'm always so hungry, I faint a lot.’ She thought it was normal to pass out every day, sometimes more than once.”
However, the fashion industry has taken steps in recent years to promote a healthy lifestyle for models and others working in the fashion industry. Conde Nast International, a leading magazine publisher responsible for the likes of Vogue and Glamour, signed an agreement in 2012 calling for a ban on models who are underage or too skinny. The agreement, signed by 19 Vogue editors, vowed to "not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder.”
"Vogue believes that good health is beautiful. Vogue Editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the well-being of their readers," Conde Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse said in a statement.
Similarly, the Council of Fashion Designers of America enacted a similar initiative in 2007 to curb the use of underweight models or those under the age of 16 from walking the runways.