Supermodel or not, the stresses of the fashion industry permeate its every sector. Accusations of rampant sexual assault in the modelling business have ruled headlines in recent seasons, but beyond that, more men and women are speaking up about the need for change across the board when it comes to ethical treatment of models on all fronts. Most recently, Condé Nast has vowed to no longer work with models under the age of 18. Ahead of the launch of her first book, Lessons: My Path To A Meaningful Life (out October 2), model Gisele Bündchen is opening up about how the early days of her modelling career caused her to have panic attacks and led her to contemplate suicide.
“It felt like everything in my life was going to kill me," she writes. "First it was the airplanes, then elevators. Then it was tunnels and hotels and modelling studios and cars. Now it was my own apartment. Everything had become a cage, and I was the animal trapped inside, panting for air. I couldn’t see a way out, and I couldn’t stand another day of feeling this way." Bündchen was discovered at age 14 when she was eating a Big Mac at a McDonald's in her native Sao Paolo, Brazil. She's since become one of the highest earning models in history, including posing and walking for the biggest names in the fashion business.
During the early stages of her career, Bündchen contemplated ending her life. "When I think back on that moment, and that 23-year-old girl, I want to cry. I want to tell her that everything will be all right, that she hasn’t even begun to live her life. But in that moment, the only answer seemed to be to jump."
In the book, Bündchen also reveals that her struggles with motherhood (she shares Benjamin, 8, and Vivian, 5, with husband Tom Brady) contributed to more recent intrusive thoughts. "When I became a mom, I kind of lost myself. It was like part of me died. I’d been this very independent person. It was all about me. But now I had this little being, and I suddenly felt I couldn’t do other things, and that was very hard for me." She's since committed to consulting doctors and living a healthier lifestyle, mentally and physically. To come forward about the darker parts of one's life isn't always easy, so we're proud of Bündchen for continuing to serve as a role model off the runway, too.
If you are thinking about suicide, please contact Samaritans on 116 123. All calls are free and will be answered in confidence.