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A former Victoria's Secret model has revealed how she resorted to drug-use over industry pressure to stay skinny. 32-year-old Erin Heatherton modelled for the well-known lingerie brand between 2010 and 2013.
Speaking on the Fallen Angel podcast, which "investigates the origin story of one of the world's most iconic brands and its effect on American culture for nearly 40 years," Erin opened up about how fear of losing her job over weight gain meant she turned to diet pills and injections.
"Where things started to go south for me was when I hit, I think it was 25 [years old]," she said on the podcast, "There was this certain point where everything that I was doing just didn't yield the same results. I was just a little bit bigger. In retrospect, that's just biology and how the body works. You're not the same size when you're 18 to when you're 25."
Despite it being entirely natural for her body to change as the years went on, Erin pointed out how she felt pressured by the brand to maintain a certain image. Because of this, she sought help from a "nutritionist to the stars," although she admits, he ended up prescribing her with an amphetamine-like appetite suppressant and hormone injections.
"[He] started me on this diet pill called phentermine, which my therapist later called 'bathwater meth'," she explained, "I started injecting myself with HCG [a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin which is produced during pregnancy]."
Opening up about how desperate she was at the time, the 32-year-old said: "I was just like, 'Help me lose weight. What do people do?' He suggested something this other model did that worked for her. [So] I started like a diabetic injecting my stomach every morning."
Now, a decade on from her time as a Victoria's Secret Angel, Erin says her behaviour could be likened to "emotional cutting." In episode three of the podcast, she points out how she was "so against" what she was doing, but was "just reluctantly doing it almost to feel the pain or feel how wrong it was."
On the topic of whether or not anyone in the industry, or at the brand, had an interest in her well being, Erin's doubtful. "I don't have any faith that these people really cared about me," she added, "You know what I'm saying? It's just about business."
Since her ordeal, the model has transformed her relationship with her body and now uses her platform to help others who might be going through a similar experience. Her Instagram feed is full of body confidence content and inspirational messages to her 926k followers.
"I think that aspirational [body] goals can exist without illness and eating disorders. When you have an eating disorder, you lose your freedom. When you are confined to this shape it consumes your life," she emphasises, "I know what that feels like. I speak out only for people that might hear me and think, 'Hey, that makes sense,' or maybe that might change their attitude towards how they treat themselves."
Beat is the UK's leading charity dedicated to helping people with eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling and want to seek help, call their helpline on 0808 801 0677 or visit their website for more details.
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