18-year-old Victoire MaÃ§on Dauxerre is a French high school student. She’s busy studying hard for her school’s final exams. One day she gives herself a relaxing afternoon off to go shopping with her mom. Little did she know this would be the day that her life turned into a nightmare.
While Victoire was out and about, she was spotted by a modeling agency. Her dream had always been to study at Sciences Po, a prestigious university in Paris. But she let herself get swept up in the world of sequins and glitter, convincing herself that it was the dream of every teenager girl. Soon after joining the sought-after Elite modeling agency, her personal descent into Hell began.
Young Victoire found herself trapped in a brutal jungle where thin bodies reign. She recalls,“nobody told me I had to lose weight. But I was told: in September, you’ll be doing the Fashion Weeks, the clothes are size 32-34, and you’ll have to fit in them.”
So, ever the hard worker, Victoire deliberately starved herself, losing 22 pounds in 2 months. Her new diet? Three apples a day and sparkling water because it made her feel full. She allowed herself a piece of chicken or fish once a week.
Her strategy “worked!” Victoire, who is 5’10”, weighed 103 pounds and was booked for back-to-back haute couture shows in Paris, Milan, and New York. She worked for popular brands like Alexander McQueen and Miu Miu and was among the 20 most demanded models.
But behind the glitter and spotlight, was a painful truth. Victoire was suffering from anorexia. “My pulse was very weak, I was losing my hair, I had osteoporosis, and I stopped having my period,” remembers the model. She admitted to fainting between several fashion shows.
The most confusing part of the whole situation? All of her pictures were manipulated. She said, “They added weight to my thighs and cheeks. The girls working there today will probably say I’m lying. They can’t say anything if they want to continue.” The girls would purposefully snack in front of journalists to keep the critics at bay, but many then vomit once the cameras are gone.
At the very start of her adulthood, Victoire felt she had lost herself. She felt alone and depressed and oftentimes in profound distress. She had become bulimic and could only see one way out. After 8 months of modelling, she attempted suicide. “Nobody understood. Everybody was telling me, ‘You have a dream life,’ but I’d never been so miserable,” she confides.
Victoire finally decided to put an end to her modeling career. The young woman, now 23, recently published a book called, “Never Skinny Enough. Diary of a Top Model,” in which she tells all. She reveals her experiences with the pressures to be thin, and the famous designers who she feels dehumanize the women the work with, treating them like vulgar coat hangers.“Karl Lagerfeld says, ‘a Chanel suit doesn’t fit a woman with breasts.’ But women have breasts by definition. Why doesn’t he just make a suit that fits women?!?”
Last year, Victoire’s story inspired a new law to be passed in France. It aims to forbid models who are too skinny from working. “If someone asks you to lose weight, run!,” she tells teenager girls who want to model. Thankfully, she survived the heartless jungle that is professional modeling. Victoire now wears a US size 6, and hopes to begin again on the stage, this time in theater.
Victoire is one of the few models who dares to speak up and tell the truth about what goes on behind the scenes in the fashion world. If her story has touched you, or if you want to raise awareness about the dangers of eating disorders, share this article with your friends.