Living With Anorexia: Carré Otis
The supermodel's bout with poor self-image and anorexia led to emotional breakdowns and finally heart surgery at age 30.
By Carré Otis
Growing up in an alcoholic household where life was chaotic and unstable had
me searching for ways to cope and remedy the anxiety I experienced.
I had a tremendous fear of becoming a woman, and my relationship with my
mother was fractured. I lacked the nurturing that makes the process of growing
from girlhood to womanhood feel safe. As my body changed, I felt confusion and
dread. I had no role models, no supportive female relationship to turn to.
Food seemed to be a way for me to control the mayhem, medicate my anxiety,
and attempt to control my life and body.
Addicted to Denying Food
By the time I entered the modeling world, I had already become quite
addicted to the patterns of using food -- and denying myself food -- as a means
to provide relief. It was the beginning of a long road of self-abuse.
Because of my age and my low self-esteem, I was very susceptible to the
judgments thrown at me in the modeling world, where I seemed to be viewed only
by my body. All attention and conversation were focused on the physical:
weight, shape, size, toned or flabby.
It was excruciating to be spoken of as if I were not in the room, or not
even in the body that was being touched and poked and judged. The pressure to
be thin and fit into the sample sizes that they shoot for the magazines was
tremendous. Basically, if I did not fit the dress I would lose the job. I did
not have friends or family to support me at that time, nor did I have an
education to fall back on. I felt I had no choice but to make it work.
The sacrifices I made were life threatening. I had entered a world that
seemed to support a "whatever it takes" mentality to maintain abnormal
thinness. I would simply not eat and then get to the point of madness from
starvation and end up bingeing.
It was a terrifying roller coaster and I had no way to understand that my
methods were the cause of the roller coaster I was on. There were no
"educators" for nutritional balance. No one was there to take me by the
hand and explain what a healthy diet looked like. When I was told I was
"fat" it felt like a death sentence, and those words would catapult me
into an anorexic episode of total abstinence from food.
Later, as my disease progressed, it took many shapes and there was nothing I
wouldn't try in an attempt to control my body. From starvation to bingeing to
laxative abuse, cocaine, diet pills, thyroid medication, vomiting, and
obsessive exercise patterns, it all became like a program I rotated