Back in February, the original supermodel, Canadian icon Linda Evangelista, told People Magazine, "I don't think designers are going to want to dress me” after her body was disfigured by a CoolSculpting procedure.
Now, she’s eating her own words, as she graces the hallowed September cover of Vogue, photographed by the incomparable Steven Meisel, and wearing Dolce and Gabbana, Fendi, and Chanel.
In the cover story, the original supermodel, who literally coined the phrase, “I don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day,” speaks about the stylistic efforts that went into her cover shoot, and how she’s just trying to function and operate with her new reality.
She makes sure the story includes the details that the makeup artist drew back her face, jaw and neck using the trickery of tape and elastics. “That’s not my jaw and neck in real life – and I can’t walk around with tape and elastics everywhere.”
She explains, “You know what, I’m trying to love myself as I am, but for the photos… I always think we’re here to create fantasies. We’re creating dreams. I think it’s allowed. Also, all my insecurities are taken care of in these pictures, so I got to do what I love to do.”
Last year, the supermodel, who grew up in St.Catharines, Ontario, went public with her story of disfigurement at the hands of CoolSculpting, a non-invasive procedure that attempts to freeze fat cells away.
“It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries. I have been left, as the media has described, ‘unrecognizable,’” she wrote on Instagram at the time. Her condition is known as Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), and there is no known cure. In February, she posed for pictures in People, where lumps of hardened flesh can be seen underneath her arms, under her chin, on her belly and on her inner thighs.
In July, she revealed she had settled out of court her lawsuit. Financial details were not released, but she had initially sued CoolSculpting for a cool $50 million.
While the photographs and her poses are absolutely STUN-NING, Linda makes it clear that this isn’t a comeback, as she insisted on being almost completely covered for the shoot. “I miss my work so much, but honestly, what can I do? It isn’t going to be easy,” she laments.
“You’re not going to see me in a swimsuit, that’s for sure. It’s going to be difficult to find jobs with things protruding from me; without retouching, or squeezing into things, or taping things or compressing or tricking…”
She goes on in the interview to talk about how this ordeal has mentally scarred her, and it will be a struggle for a long time to come. She even goes as far to admit that she can’t bear to look at herself in the mirror, and refuses to let anyone touch her body. For a time, after the liposuction procedures to correct the PAH failed, she even admits to harming her body further by restricting her calories down to zero a day.
“I just drank water. Or sometimes I would have a stick of celery or one apple. I was losing my mind."
“Am I cured mentally? Absolutely not,” she admits. “But I’m so grateful for the support I got from my friends and from my industry.”
She also reveals how she got suckered into undergoing the CoolSculpting procedure. “Those CoolSculpting commercials were on all the time, on CNN, on MSNBC, over and over, and they would ask, 'Do you like what you see in the mirror?’ They were speaking to me. It was about stubborn fat in areas that wouldn’t budge.”
“It said no downtime, no surgery and… I drank the magic potion, and I would because I’m a little vain," she told the outlet. "So I went for it — and it backfired."
"If I had known side-effects may include losing your livelihood and you'll end up so depressed that you hate yourself... I wouldn't have taken that risk."
Her beautiful and brave cover shoot is also about embracing the moment and her truth. “I couldn’t live in that pain any longer. I knew I had to make a change, and the only change was to tell my truth.”
Her interview is also full of other anecdotes from her 30+ years in the fashion industry. She talks about working with the late, great Karl Lagerfeld, about working with Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, and also about being scouted in the Niagara region of Ontario when she was just 16 years old and sent to Japan. As she recalls, she was introduced very young to the horrors and exploitation of women in the industry.
“I went to the agency and it was all, ‘take your clothes off, we need your measurements’, but they already had my measurements,” she said. “They wanted me naked and it wasn’t a ‘would you do nudes’ conversation, it was a ‘you will do nudes’. I left and called my mother and she said, ‘Get out now and get to the embassy.’ So that’s what I did, and they got me home.”
That instilled in her a drive to only work for campaigns and designers that fairly compensated her and other models, (hence the $10,000 a day quote), and she advocated for higher wages to that end.
"I had the power of being able to hold out," she explained."That's all it came down to. But also, I was thinking about different industries. Athletes aren't all paid the same - some are paid more for what they bring to the game. It wasn't a matter of thinking I was better… but I knew my worth."