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Supermodels Suffer for External Beauty

In a joint interview, supermodels Kim Alexis, Carol Alt, and Beverly Johnson—who collectively have appeared on more than 2,000 magazine covers—spoke frankly about the stresses and health problems of struggling to stay at the peak in the beauty business.

Alexis, who is five-feet-ten-inches tall, admits that after being discovered by a talent scout, the owner of New York City's Elite modeling agency guaranteed her a certain amount of money if she lost 15 pounds. At the time, she weighed 145 pounds. "I cried for the first year of my career," Alexis confesses honestly. "I remember trying every fad diet. I remember starving myself for four days in a row. I remember trying the Atkins diet, which was low carbohydrate, high protein. If I didn't drop 10 pounds in a week, I was on another diet."

Carol Alt also dieted and exercised strenuously to force her five-foot-eight-inch frame down to an unnaturally slender 115 pounds. On her first modeling job, she passed out and fell into fellow model Kelly Emberg's arms. "An editor had given me a month to lose 12 pounds," Alt explains. "If I did, she promised me a trip to Rome. So I stopped eating."

As a highly paid fashion model and cover girl, Beverly Johnson frequently found herself doing exactly the same thing. "I ate nothing. I mean nothing," she says. "From the moment I took my first picture, I thought it would be my last, and from the moment I started modeling at 17 years old, I thought that the next 16-year-old girl who came in would be better than me." Eventually ending up with bulimia, anorexia, and a thyroid problem, Beverly attributes her ailments to self-imposed starvation and crash dieting. "In our profession, clothes look better on a hanger, so you have to look like a hanger."

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