Model Beverly Johnson says people in the fashion industry encouraged her to look 'chiseled to the bone' early in her career

Beverly Johnson attends the 2024 Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Beverly Johnson in 2024.Valerie Macon/Getty Images
  • Beverly Johnson spoke to Page Six about the challenges she faced early in her modeling career.

  • She said she was encouraged by people in the fashion industry to look "chiseled to the bone."

  • Johnson said she used cocaine and barely ate to remain thin.

Beverly Johnson, the first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue, is opening up about the challenges she faced early in her career as a model.

The 71-year-old recently spoke with Page Six while promoting her one-woman, off-Broadway play, "Beverly Johnson In Vogue."

In the interview, Johnson revealed that she used cocaine and barely ate to remain thin in the '70s, as members of the fashion industry encouraged her to look "chiseled to the bone."

She also told the publication that she and other models were then unaware that the drug was addictive.

"Everyone used drugs back in the day, but that particular drug for models was used because we did not eat," Johnson told Page Six. "I remember eating two eggs and a bowl of brown rice a week. I would be shaking in a cab, and I would say pull over because I have to get a bag of M&Ms."

Beverly Johnson films a scene for "54" in 1997.
Beverly Johnson films a scene for "54" in 1997.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images

Johnson told Page Six that her mother helped her realize she was in danger by having her look at herself in a three-way mirror after a bath.

"It was the first time I saw my bones looking back at me," she told the publication. "It was a major wake-up call for me."

Johnson rose to fame after her history-making Vogue cover in 1974 and has remained sober in the 50 years since, she told Page Six.

Beverly Johnson visits the Seventeen magazine offices in 1994.
Beverly Johnson in 1994.Rose Hartman/Getty Images

Johnson isn't alone, as other models have also said they've used drugs and dangerous diets to appease various fashion brand executives in the industry.

In 2021, former Victoria's Secret model Bridget Malcolm revealed on Instagram that she was told by modeling agencies to do cocaine and "have lots of sex" to lose weight as a minor.

She also said in her social-media post that the experience led her to develop PTSD, anorexia, orthorexia, anxiety, and depression. She also "couldn't socialize without drinking" and later became dependent on Xanax and Ambien, she said.

Naomi Campbell and Cara Delevingne have also shared their experiences using drugs while working as models.

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