Home » Eating Disorders » Blogs » Weightless » Attaining The Thin Ideal: It’s Not Easy For Models Either

Attaining The Thin Ideal: It’s Not Easy For Models Either

{Adriana Lima via wikipedia}

“Have you read the article about Victoria’s Secret models and how they get ready for their fashion show?” my mom asked me a few days ago. She always keeps an eye out for me on anything and everything body image-related. (Thanks, Mom!)

I hadn’t, but I basically raced to the computer to read the article, and I learned an important lesson that I sort of already knew but didn’t. (Make sense?)

Turns out, it’s not so easy achieving a model-esque shape even for models. Now, many models do look the way they do because of their genes. (Genetics play a big role in our body shape, size and weight.) But that’s not enough. They take some serious measures to look “naturally” slim and sculpted.

Adriana Lima, one of the most famous of VS Angels, spoke candidly with the Telegraph about her food and fitness routines. It’s not for the faint of heart.

On what she eats:

She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes – “no solids”. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and “just drink normally”. Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely.

On how she exercises:

Lima, 30, has been working out every day with a personal trainer since August. For the last three weeks, she’s been working out twice a day.

“It is really intense, it’s not really the amount of time you spend working out, it’s the intensity: I jump rope, I do boxing, I lift weights, but I get bored doing that. If I am not moving I get bored very easily.”

I’m glad that Lima spoke out about the rigorous – and unhealthy! – steps she takes to prepare for the runway. It shows us – many of whom berate ourselves for not being able to achieve thinness – that it takes a crazy routine to look this lean and muscular, and that’s after you’re already genetically predisposed to a slimmer shape.

Magazines, print ads and commercials regularly tell us that we can lose weight and achieve the ideal figure simply by eating less and working out more. But this article just adds to the evidence that it takes much more than that. It takes not drinking water (and dehydrating yourself!), subsisting on protein shakes, exercising around the clock and watching your weight (and other indicators) like a hawk.

And, of course, it also shows us that just because you look a certain way (muscular and thin) doesn’t mean that you’re actually practicing healthy habits. Because, sadly, in our society we equate muscle and little fat with health.

But these are clearly dangerous habits (not to mention quite time-consuming!). Exercising this intensely twice a day leaves you vulnerable to injury. Also, when you aren’t eating much, you’re not fueling or feeding your body; isn’t she depleting her body of vital resources and destroying her bones? Not to mention cultivating an unhealthy relationship with food and fitness?

In another interview, Lima compared the measures she takes – crash dieting and excessive exercising – to being an athlete. Plus, she doesn’t do this all the time, she says…

“I know it’s very intense but…I just have an athlete’s mind and I appreciate doing this thing,” she told me. “It’s not that I do crazy diets throughout the year. I just do it for this particular thing. After this show, I become normal again!”

In fact, she said she didn’t work out quite as hard she normally does this time. “This year, even though my diet was intense, I took it a little bit easier on the working out so I won’t be as muscular,” she explained.

Jenna Sauers in this Jezebel piece wrote about the idea that training for the VS fashion show is like training for a marathon. (Hint: In her opinion, it’s anything but.) And Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment also blogged about Lima being an athlete.

I know that many people think that this is simply a model’s job (it’s what she signed up for), and whether she’s like an athlete training for a marathon or not, her job is to look a certain way. I’m curious where these standards come from. I don’t blame Lima for her habits. She has a team of stylists, nutritionists, trainers, etc. who encourage this behavior, and these rules very likely come down from VS who provide the cavalry.

There’s a ton of pressure on models to maintain a slim and toned shape, and I feel bad for Lima and the other models. Because it seems like too much to contend with emotionally and physically.

At the end of the day what’s really interesting (scary and frustrating) is that models engage in harmful practices to maintain the very ideal they set. So if it takes this much for models, why are we so worried about attaining something clearly so unattainable?

So what do you think: Is Lima’s routine unhealthy? Or is this just another part of the job? Are you surprised at how much the models diet and work out? What are your thoughts on this news in general? How does it make you feel about your own body?

Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is …. (drumroll) …. Nicole, who wanted to read Beautiful You! Thanks so much to everyone for participating. I’m actually hosting another giveaway tomorrow with the help of Sui from Cynosure. I also plan on hosting another book giveaway in the future.


Attaining The Thin Ideal: It’s Not Easy For Models Either

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

13 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). Attaining The Thin Ideal: It’s Not Easy For Models Either. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from


Last updated: 10 Nov 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Nov 2011
Published on All rights reserved.