Many models cite their troubled industry as a source of body image issues. The impossible standards that models are expected to uphold from a young age take a toll, often resulting in eating disorders and low self-esteem.
Models like Iskra Lawrence, Charli Howard, and Crystal Renn have spoken about their battles with disordered eating, starting their careers at unhealthy and unsustainable weights, feeling pressured by agents and clients to be thin, and eventually rejecting the industry’s pressures and finding that they can work at their natural size.
But for Miss Pennsylvania USA, Cassandra Angst, modeling had an opposite effect on her body image. In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the beauty queen opened up about her history with disordered eating, posting a photo of herself from two years ago, looking unhealthily thin, alongside a photo of her on the pageant runway at a healthy weight.
“As some of you may know, I struggled with anorexia for many years,” Angst wrote. “The picture on the left was taken two years ago with me being just under 100 lbs. at 5’8. I was in and out of the hospital and doctors offices for months. I ate too little and over exercised, which caused me to become very ill.”
Angst blames the media for teaching women to hate their bodies, but she says modeling helped her to find confidence. “As a working model, I’ve come to realize that there are many young women that are struggling with their self-body image,” she wrote. “Body dysmorphia is a growing issue that needs more attention in our country. … Body shaming causes a lot of serious issues, such as mental problems, eating disorders, and even death!”
She added: “Even though I’m nowhere near a size 0, I still go out on that stage and walk down the runway confidently! Not only for me, but to show other women it is okay to be curvy and to pursue their dreams even if society tears you down.”
Using her platform to dispel the idea that thin bodies are the only beautiful ones, Angst called on her fans to change their mindsets. “Women don’t need to be a size 0 to be beautiful,” she wrote. “Ladies, being skinny is not worth your health, nor your life! Love your bodies, ladies, it’s the only one you’ll ever have! Let’s stop body shaming for good!”