They wanted me to starve

Cindy_Nel0


The industry gave her plenty of perks – her own flat at 21, a luxury car, a fat bank account and lots of travel – but she also experienced the ugly side of modelling, fraught with anorexia and bulimia.

Now former Miss SA and TV presenter Cindy Nell Roberts reveals details of a business often shrouded in secrecy.

In Cindy Nell’s Model & Pageant Handbook the 29-year-old has practical advice for aspiring catwalk queens.

“The book gives the good, the bad, the ugly – and everything in between – of the modelling and beauty pageant industry,” Cindy tells us.

The book, priced at R180, isn’t a gossip fest, she insists, but it does have a few revelations that will raise eyebrows – such as former Miss SA Claudia Henkel’s admission to a past eating disorder.

Claudia, who is 1,85 m tall, discloses there was intense pressure on her to lose weight, which resulted in her becoming “almost anorexic, weighing 56 kg”.

Cindy agrees the pressure to be thin is heavy – and she too suffered to fit in. “I survived on coffee and diet pills. If you started to feel as if you were going to faint you’d eat something.”

She believes she probably had an eating disorder although it was never diagnosed as anorexia. “I obsessed about my weight constantly. It definitely wasn’t healthy.”

Yet Cindy, who won her first pageant at 12, is at pains to point out that looking beautiful is an essential part of the modelling industry.

“Modelling agencies aren’t monsters,” she says.

“Think of it this way: if you want to be a doctor, a nurse or a pilot there are certain criteria you have to fulfil. For modelling they’re mostly physical. My advice is if it’s not in your genes don’t pursue it.”

“It’s either in your genes to have the right body shape or it isn’t. And contrary to popular opinion the most important criterion isn’t height although that does help. It’s flawless skin.”

These days the happily married star models from time to time but prefers to focus on her new career in business. She and husband Clive Roberts own Cosmetix, the company responsible for the successful Caribbean Tan and recently launched Skin Science ranges.

Get the full story in YOU, 4 November 2010.


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