A 5 minute juice with PT and Model Chloe Thomas
Posted on October 12th, 2017
This week it gives me great pleasure to introduce PT, model and friend of mine Chloe Thomas. Chloe and I met last April at The Beat Eating Disorders ambassador training day. There she explained to me her story of working in the modelling industry and being told by her agency to get “lean”. I was totally shocked hearing about her experience and I know she can’t be the only model in the industry to have felt the pressure to get thin.
Now happier than ever, Chloe works as a PT in Tunbridge Wells, Kent with a particular focus on intuitive movement and helping women find confidence in themselves.
I admire Chloe so much for walking away from her career for the sake of a mental health and for showing such strength and resilience to some of the things she’s had to endure. I hope you find her story as empowering as I do.
Chloe how long have you been modelling and what’s your experience with the industry?
I have been modeling for 6 years and I have worked in London and New York Fashion Weeks. I’ve modeled for the majority of all hair companies – like TONI & GUY, Wella, BedHead TIGI etc – doing shoots and shows. I have been on the TV commercial, billboard and campaign for the FIAT 500 car. I worked for Kanye West when I was in New York. I have been in both British and Italia VOGUE on online. I have also worked with Make up brands like AVON and even done toothpaste commercial in Danish! I did some e-commerce and editorial work. I have even travelled to Venice to do shows for DIESEL at their headquarters. I’m sure there are loads more jobs but after 6 years it becomes a blur! I did also live in a model apartment when I was in New York for fashion week – which as an experience in itself!
You were told by your last agency D1 to lose weight, how did you take that on a personal level?
I found it tough and upsetting. I was already really thin so losing weight would basically mean going back to my near-anorexic weight. It may me feel worthless and not good enough in myself. They said my face was puffy and round and would not get me work (bearing in mind my BMI was underweight at this point). I felt sick to the stomach when they told me to take water retention tablets when they knew I had had anorexia! I suffered from depression for about 3 to 4 weeks following this.
I think it takes enormous courage to walk away from that. What advice would you give girls or boys in industries where body size can be a dominant focus e.g. ballet, modelling, television?
I would say to be cautious and remember your agent does not have your best interest at heart. You are a business to them. So when you don’t book as many jobs they may try and change you to ‘fit’ the current market and manipulate you by saying ‘it’ll be good for your career’ etc. Deep down they don’t care about your welfare, health or mental health.
I would suggest keeping a circle of friends and family outside of your industry and make sure you are mixing with them regularly. I made the mistake of only being friends with models and dancers and this caused me major body dysmorophia and to think that what I was eating was “normal”. It is not until now that I am around all types of bodies as a Personal trainer I realise just how thin I really was!
When did you decide you wanted to be a PT?
Last summer I got myself a personal trainer for 6 months and saw genuine positive changes in myself – my body, my mental health and my relationship with exercise and food. I’ve always had a passion to help people and that’s why I did a nutrition coaching course and then 5 months later the PT course.
How do you manage a “healthy” relationship with food and fitness now, and how has that changed over time?
I’m not going to lie to you; it is SO hard to do this in a world that is saturated in diet culture. Most books you read, films you watch, TV adverts you see, and magazines or newspapers you open will have some form of diet culture. Even papers like the Sunday Mail has ‘healthy detox smoothie recipes” and weight loss guides!
So I have cleaned out my social media, deleted a bunch of people on facebook and stopped going to any events/ meet-ups which are not in line with my core values. I also have changed some friends, made new ones and stopped seeing ones who only talked about diets, food and fitness. I’m aware that used to be me, so I don’t think any of those people are bad people. I am just looking after myself now and my environment plays a big role in this.
I also am trying to really listen to my body when it comes to food and exercise –so no rules. I am reading the 3rd edition of the book ‘Intuitive Eating’ which has really helped me on this.
You were then signed to another modeling agency? How did that experience initially differ to other modelling agencies?
I was actually signed to Sapphires Model Management after I left D1, they were really supportive of my weight gain. They also supported me doing my PT course. I left in April 2017 as they were a boutique agency so I wasn’t getting much work.
I was then signed to my lastest agency. They said they only took on healthy girls and would never tell me to change my body or lose weight. They were also really supportive of my work as an eating disorder recovery ambassador for Beat.
What happened next?
After a few months they called me in for a meeting and told me that companies like Nike and other big sports brands only use really lean girls and ‘that is just the way it is’.
Then 2 weeks later they called me and told me that their model board didn’t really have a place for me and that I didn’t fit the sports board or model board either. They left me with 3 options – get really lean to be on their sports board, get skinny and be on their model board, or leave.
So I left – with a sense of disappointment with their attitude. They knew my past with D1 and ED’s, yet they still left me feeling ugly and worthless.
In your opinion, is it the fashion industry or agencies who’s to blame for such a toxic attitude?
I believe both are as bad as each other. The agencies prey on young, impressionable and vulnerable girls and boys. But it’s only because the fashion industry is looking for the tall thin ideal. This puts pressure on the agencies to manipulate model them to lose weight but even so, there are no excuses.
The agencies are 100% to blame for signing girls who are ill and suffering from EDs. The should not be giving out dangerous weight loss tips like the water retention tablets I was offered.
What do you think could be done to change the standards of beauty?
I think there needs to more diverse models – not just 5’8” and above – all heights, and all sizes from a size 6 to 18. Then models would actually be able to represent the real population – which is a population of ALL sizes and ALL heights. I still think there is a lack of black models too and there need to be more black models who are over a size 10.
What is your view on plus size models? Do you think there should be a separate category or models should be models?
Models should just be models. The plus-sized girls aren’t even true plus size – they have to be hourglass, curvy and with minimal cellulite and still be 5’8” plus! And again, this is not representing the true population of women.
Chloe, I have the utmost respect for you in how you’ve dealt with everything. Your strength is both admirable and extremely inspirational to me and I know I won’t be the only one.
What advice would you give to anyone who’s put down about their weight by agencies, parents, friends etc.?
Thank you Isa. This is a difficult one but loving yourself has to come from within – it can’t happen through external validation, or being a certain weight, height etc.
I find affirmations have helped me, and making sure I surround myself with friends who make me feel good about myself and don’t focus on food and fitness the whole time (which can be hard as a personal trainer and model!).
I would also tell them to unfollow any social media accounts that make them feel bad , even if they are friends, and to follow accounts that are interesting, inspiring and different. For example travel pages, photography pages, body positive pages, or anti diet dieticians etc. Also to make sure you are reading books and magazines that are not about fitness and food and diets – and finding other hobbies outside of this.
Lastly, I know you’ve just got an exciting new role at a boutique PT studio, what do you aim to teach your clients about food, exercise and body image?
I aim to get them off diets once and for all and to focus on functional fitness. During sessions I try to avoid talk about how their body looks and change the focus to how they feel. I ask them about confidence levels because if they are low I know that is something we need to work on because no matter what weight they are they will never be happy. Finding happiness from weight loss is a lie that diet culture sells us!! I also share books and podcasts that may help them and social media pages to follow (and un-follow!).
And one more because I always end on this question, what would be your last meal on Earth?
This would be very filling but I’m trying to fit my favourite foods into one meal! So for Starters – smoked salmon with cream cheese on a piece of rye bread with a glass of a nice champagne. Main – A really good tender rack of BBQ Ribs with thick salty chips (dipped in mayonnaise!) Dessert – Syrup sponge with a scoop of nice vanilla ice cream.
Keep up to date with Chloe’s Intuitive Eating and exercise messages via her instagram account @_chloeinspires_ and her youtube channel.