Former Victoria’s Secret Angel Erin Heatherton says she has admitted she took diet pills and injected herself with artificial hormones due to fears she would be fired by the lingerie giant if she didn’t lose weight.
The 32-year-old model began walking in the brand’s fashion show in 2008 but hung up her wings for good in 2013 after claiming the brand put pressure on her to lose weight.
In a desperate bid to lose weight, the Illinois-born model visited a ‘nutritionist to the stars’, who suggested she take appetite suppressants which she compared to ‘bathwater meth’.
Speaking in an upcoming episode of the Fallen Angel podcast, Erin said that ‘things went south’ when she naturally started to gain weight at the age of 25.
A Victoria’s Secret spokesperson told FEMAIL: ‘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.’
Former Victoria’s Secret Angel Erin Heatherton says she took diet pills and injected herself with artificial hormones due to fears she would be fired if she didn’t lose weight. She is pictured during her last catwalk show for the brand in 2013
Erin, pictured in Las Vegas in 2016, said that ‘things went south’ when she naturally started to gain weight at the age of 25
‘There was this certain point where everything that I was doing just didn’t yield the same results’, she said.
‘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.’
Terrified of losing her job, Erin sought the help of a doctor who prescribed her with an appetite suppressant and hormone injections.
‘[He] started me on this diet pill called phentermine, which my therapist later called ‘bathwater meth”‘, she said.
In 2013 Erin decided to quit the brand due to pressure to lose weight. Pictured a year earlier at the infamous annual fashion show in New York
Erin walking in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show for the final time in 2013. She said she looks back on the images and can’t believe she was told she needed to lose some weight
‘I was just like, “Help me lose weight. What do people do?” He suggested something this other model did that worked for her.
‘This is this nutritionist to the stars, whatever. I started like a diabetic injecting my stomach every morning.
‘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.’
In 2016, Erin revealed she battled with depression and opened up about how her decision to quit the catwalk was brought on by pressure from the brand to lose weight.
Speaking to Motto about her body image issues, the blonde beauty – who quit the underwear brand catwalk in 2013 – said: ‘My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight. I look back, like, “Really?”.
Erin, pictured in 2016, made her breakthrough appearing in Diane Von Furstenberg’s catwalk show in 2006 and has starred in campaigns for the likes of Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana
‘I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me.
‘I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.
‘I realised I couldn’t go out into the world, parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this.’
Erin made her breakthrough appearing in Diane Von Furstenberg’s catwalk show in 2006 and has starred in campaigns for the likes of Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana.
The model, who is a Sports Illustrated regular, previously dated Leonardo di Caprio for 10 months from 2011 to 2012.
In another episode of the podcast, Australian-born model Bridget Malcolm, who walked in two Victoria’s Secret Fashion shows, said that she spent months living on nothing but ‘protein shakes and steamed’ vegetables.
Australian-born model Bridget Malcolm, who walked in two Victoria’s Secret Fashion shows, said that she spent months living on nothing but ‘protein shakes and steamed’ vegetables. She is pictured during the show in 2015
‘When I was doing Victoria’s Secret the angels were very thin, they were all the same size, the same shape, everything. I wanted to be one of those girls, I just worked out and slept’, she said.
Eating so little caused the model’s periods to stop and Bridget would rely on taking anti-anxiety medication to sleep at night.
‘I was so hungry, I was so hungry. I was reliant on anti-anxiety medication to get through the night, I hadn’t had a period for a really long time, my body wasn’t working. I could barely read a book, I didn’t have a personality, I didn’t feel present at all, I was not there.
‘After spending three months eating nothing but protein shakes and steamed vegetables and exercising I don’t feel sexy, I don’t even know what that feels like. I wanted to walk down that run way, to know what it feels like.
Eating so little caused the model’s periods to stop and Bridget would rely on taking anti-anxiety medication to sleep at night. She is pictured during the runway show in 2015
‘But actually once I got it, I was like “Oh this is not sustainable, this is not okay as a woman, as anybody. Basically, this is wrong’.
She claimed in an explosive interview earlier this year that at one point she was so malnourished it took her ’10 minutes to climb a flight of stairs’
When asked how clear the message was from Victoria’s Secret that you needed to be super skinny, Bridget was blunt in her response: ‘Pretty clear.’
‘I had an eating disorder, I was relying on anti-anxiety medication, I was having panic attacks constantly, I was exhausted,’ she added.
‘My body was malnourished, my mind was malnourished, it was relentless. What that company represented for me and for so many other women was extremely exploitative at that time. To me it felt like controlling women.’
Karlie Kloss, pictured during the VS catwalk show in 2014, admitted she decided to quit her job as a Victoria’s Secret Angel because she thought the brand’s message wasn’t one to spread for ‘young women around the world’
Karlie Kloss admitted she decided to quit her job as a Victoria’s Secret Angel because she thought the brand’s message wasn’t one to spread for ‘young women around the world’.
The 29-year-old model joined Victoria’s Secret as an Angel in 2013 after first starting with the company in 2011, and she kept her Angel-status until 2015 by walking in multiple runway shows and modelling for ads.
Karlie then took a two-year hiatus from the brand to study feminist theory at New York University’s Gallatin School, cutting ties with the lingerie brand.
‘The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful,’ Karlie told British Vogue.
Fallen Angels: How Victoria’s Secret went from a once global phenomenon and the lingerie of choice for the world’s biggest stars to a brand fighting to stay relevant
Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1977 by US businessman Roy Raymond, who set up a small chain of boudoir lingerie shops when he could find no man-friendly women’s stores.
In 1982 he sold the company to clothing magnate Les Wexner for $1million – a fraction of its current value. Raymond later committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
He chose the name Victoria after Queen Victoria, thinking it sounded refined, and added Secret to refer to what was hidden under the clothes.
Eventually, hundreds of stores opened coast to coast, but it was the glitzy launch of Victoria’s Secret’s first blatantly sexy catwalk show at the Plaza Hotel, New York in 1995 which made the difference.
Beginning: The first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1995 with models such as Angelika Kallio (left) and Leilani (right) walking the runway
Broadcast on network TV to 185 countries, millions tuned in to see supermodels Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Tyra Banks and Karen Mulder – among others – stripped back to the barest of essentials.
Victoria’s Secret opened its first flagship store in London’s Bond Street in 2012, and staged its first catwalk show in 2014, featuring Ed Sheeran as star turn, but recent years have been more challenging.
Aside from a small rise in the first quarter in 2018, the lingerie retailer had falling sales every quarter since the fourth quarter in 2016.
Victoria’s Secret shuttered 20 stores in 2018 amid a poor annual sales performance, ending the year with former CEO Jan Singer resigning last November.
The lingerie giant’s parent company, L Brands, confirmed in November 2019 that its famous show wouldn’t take place. The decision was part of a move to ‘evolve the messaging of [the company],’ Fortune reported at the time.
Famous faces: The show has featured some of the world’s most in-demand models over the years, including Bella Hadid in New York in 2018 (left) and Heidi Klum in Miami in 2008 (right)
Supermodel Tyra Banks displays an outfit during the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York in 2003 (left)
It came a year after marketing chief Ed Razek said the brand would not cast plus-sized or ‘transexual’ models because the show is a ‘fantasy.’
In 2020, more than 100 models signed an open letter to the then CEO of Victoria’s Secret calling for him to take action on the company’s ‘culture of misogyny and abuse’.
The letter urged John Mehas to end what the group – which included Christy Turlington Burns, Iskra Lawrence, Edie Campbell, Amber Valletta and Felicity Hayward – described as an ‘entrenched culture of misogyny’ at the lingerie chain.
With consumers turning away from glamour towards comfort, plus a huge backlash following reports of Wexner’s historic friendship with disgraced financier Jeffery Epstein, Victoria’s Secret faced an identity crisis.
As well as a shift in public perception of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the brand faced a continued decline in sales.
Last year, the brand tried a new approach, posting photos on its Instagram account that promote neutral underwear in a variety of skin tones and using models from different ethnic backgrounds and showing size diversity.
However, some lingerie fans said the company’s bid to finally become more diverse was ‘too little, too late’ and accused the brand of ‘playing catch-up’.
In May 2020, parent company L Brands announced the closure of 250 stores in the US and Canada, after being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The closures represented nearly a quarter of Victoria’s Secret’s 1,091 locations in North America.