Model Erin Heatherton is opening up about her time as a Victoria’s Secret Angel in a new podcast.
In the series, titled Fallen Angel—hosted by Vanessa Grigoriadis and former Glamour features director Justine Harman—Heatherton talks about the extreme lengths she went to lose weight while working as an Angel from 2010 to 2013. Her hope in sharing her story? That others might see that an impossible beauty standard was set during that time, so that they might be kinder to their own bodies.
“Where things started to go south for me was when I hit, I think it was 25 [years old],” Heatherton says in the podcast, per People. “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.”
Heatherton says the pressure to look a certain way as a model in the 2010s pushed her “over the edge a little bit.” At one point, she starting seeing a nutritionist who put her on a diet pill called phentermine, an appetite suppressant. Heatherton’s therapist would later call this pill “bathwater meth.”
“I don’t know. I was just like, ‘Let me Lance Armstrong this because I’m renovating my condo. I can’t lose my job right now,'” she tells Grigoriadis and Harman. “I started injecting myself with HCG.” For the unfamiliar, HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone made during pregnancy which has been used, incorrectly, for weight loss. Per Mayo Clinic, the FDA “has advised consumers to steer clear of over-the-counter weight-loss products that contain HCG.”
Heatherton continues, “I look back at it as like emotional cutting because I was so against everything that I was doing, but I was just reluctantly doing it almost to feel the pain or feel how wrong it was.”
The 32-year-old is in a much better place now. “I share my story again because I don’t want anyone to have an eating disorder or hate their bodies,” she says. “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.”
In response to Erin Heatherton’s story, Victoria’s Secret told People in a statement, “There is a new leadership team at Victoria’s Secret who is fully committed to the continued transformation of the brand with a focus on creating an inclusive environment for our associates, customers and partners to celebrate, uplift and champion all women.” The lingerie brand has retired its focus on the Angels program and recently announced a new initiative designed to shape the future of the brand, the VS Collective. Founding members include soccer player and gender-equity activist Megan Rapinoe, skier and soon-to-be Olympian Eileen Gu, actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Girl Gaze founder Amanda de Cadenet, and models Adut Akech Bior, Valentina Sampaio, and Paloma Elsesser.
Fallen Angel is available wherever you stream podcasts.
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