The article originally appeared in MIMI.
Iconic model Beverly Johnson, 63, is detailing some of the horrifying trappings of the modeling industry in the ’70s and ’80s in her new tell-all book, The Face That Changed It All.
In an interview with People, Johnson shares startling memories of starving herself to weigh just 103 pounds after being deemed “too fat.” At the time, she was 5’9 and 125 pounds.
“I was eating nothing, zero,” she says. “I drank black coffee, a sip of broth if things got tough, and in the evening, a glass of champagne as a pick me up. We didn’t even drink water. We thought it was fattening.”
Johnson discusses how openly and readily available drugs were available to models back in her day, which resulted in a battle with cocaine addiction for the model, who now runs a lifestyle line featuring makeup, bags, and hair extensions.
“Drug use was encouraged,” she says.” It was like ‘Oh my god, you are chiseled to the bone.’ All of the things you needed to be a high-class model: high cheekbones, bright eyes, that was all provided by the drugs. It was like being offered a drink. It was one of the perks. People around us always had it.”
After nearly suffering an overdose in 1983 and becoming embattled in a custody suit over her daughter Anansa, Johnson went to rehab to beat her addiction.
“I realized drugs could kill you and my daughter would not have a mother if I didn’t get help,” she says.
With a happier and healthier outlook on life, Johnson is living proof that a model never has to retire — she can just keep reinventing herself.