Sustainable Model

I became a model from being scouted on the street of Tokyo at age 12. As a kid, I focused on sports and getting my education so I couldn’t take modelling seriously at the time. When I turned 16, I began to have more interest in international modelling as my local agency advised me that I was “too tall” for Japanese market, but could try for the international market.

In order to be an international model, I needed to be able to speak English. To convince my parents to let me study abroad, I showed them the result in exams and grades. After a lot of arguments and talk with my parents and teacher, I finally took an opportunity to go study abroad in Vancouver, Canada for about one year.

In Canada, throughout connections, I started getting involved in the international modelling world and I got signed to a local model agency. On weekends, I did test shoots and photoshoots to build my portfolio as a model.

One day, when I visited the agency for measurements, my manager there told me to lose about 10 lbs (4.5kg) as quickly as possible in order to look like a “perfect” runway model although I was always naturally skinny. I felt extremely bad about not being “skinny” or “good” enough for the industry so I immediately went on an extreme diet where I allowed myself to eat only an apple and “salad”, in other words, lettuce.

In addition to the restrictive diet, every day after school, I would spend two hours on cardio and one hour on swimming at the gym instead of having dinner. I lied to my host family that I had dinner with my friends every night.

I kept doing it for about one month and a half until I could barely eat anything. I lost over 15kg (33 lbs) in such a short period of time. I became physically and mentally ill. I was always cold when my friends were saying hot. I lost a lot of hair. I lost my period. I felt like flying or dreaming whenever I walked around. I began to get frustrated and angry very easily at little things.

I didn’t want to admit how ill I was until I was sent to an emergency emergency department in a General Hospital and saw the number of my heart rate: 38 bpm. The doctor told me that I was at serious risk of having a heart attack. He also told me that if I don’t try to gain weight and get healthy, they’ll have to send me back home in Japan. I really didn’t want it to happen so I promised the doctor and teachers that I would gain weight. My teacher from school came to the hospital and bugged me to eat a few slices of apple but I just could not because in my eating disordered mind, I still wanted to lose more weight.

My parents came to Canada being worried about me but I was more worried about what they would do to me. I was so scared that they would make me fat although they were just trying to help me get better. They cooked for me in a hotel room because they thought I needed some comfort food. That moment, I felt their love and support more than ever.

After I got out of the hospital, I had to go to a clinic in Vancouver every weekend to record my weight and to make sure that I was gaining weight. However, I didn’t eat enough and didn’t stop going to the gym so I was actually still losing more weight. As I didn’t want them to notice it, I made sure that I drank more than 1 kg of water before going to the clinic, so

that my weight would be 1 kg heavier. I also gave out all the supplemental shakes and high calorie protein balls I was obliged to eat by the clinic to homeless people. That’s how messed up my mind was by my eating disorder.

My turning point was probably when I reached my lowest weight: 45.8kg (99lbs) at 180cm (5’11). I got scared when I saw that number. I felt so silly about myself and just sorry for the people who loved and cared about me. I was also sick of feeling cold and tired all the time. I was so cold that I would always wear two black thick tights underneath my jeans and three heattech clothes underneath my sweater. I was so tired everyday that I would go to bed by 8pm at age 17. I wanted to get better because I was not living my life and I didn’t want to waste my teenage life anymore. That’s when I finally realized that I needed to eat and get healthy again before it was “too late”.

Recovery journey is not easy and different for everyone who have dealt with eating disorders. Just like other relationships in your life with others, you have to build so much trust with yourself to recover from this mental illness. Which is not the easiest thing to do after being so judgemental and critical of yourself. But I could share three main things that worked for me.

First thing is choosing a plant-based lifestyle. For some, I know the fact being vegan and cutting out foods that aren’t vegan is another way for them to feel “in control”.

In my early recovery, I was still eating fish as my mum didn’t really believe in the lifestyle (it is rare to be vegan in Japan). But my portions were very small, especially carbohydrates. It’s because I was so afraid of eating any high-carb food. I could eat fish but was still scared of carbohydrates so for me, I didn’t become vegan to feel “in control” but I became vegan to feel good. Also, veganism helped me find a passion to make the world a better place. When I was anorexic or even eating a standard diet, I didn’t care much about what was going on in the world. I only cared about my value in the society. I’m very grateful for the lifestyle to make me realize that our lives are not the only ones that matter, and I have the power to make the world a better place as an individual. Throughout this time, I improved self-esteem, I met so many like-minded people, and then I found my communities. I felt so connected with them regardless of gender, age,or race.

Second thing that helped me overcome my eating disorder was to practice gratitude. I have a specific way to practice gratitude: every morning, after doing yoga, I write down five things I’m grateful for in my journal. This practice helps me appreciate the life I’m living, who and what I already am.

Last but not least, changing my perspective helped me overcome my illness. Perspective is everything. For instance, in my early “recovery”, I used to hide and waste food because I wanted to look like I was eating enough. I thought food would only make me fat. I took food for granted. As soon as I tried to start seeing the same situation from another perspective, I recognized how lucky I am to have access to food, especially good quality food when one in seven people are starving in the world. I felt extremely ashamed for what I had done. Since then, I never hid and wasted food again but have appreciation and gratitude for food I get to have. Changing your perspective is a powerful way to overcome difficulties or hard times in life too because you can start seeing them as opportunities to gain knowledge and experience, not failures.

Today, I’m an ethical model, working with ethical brands that make positive impacts on the planet, the lives of humans and animals. I’m taking action now to create a better world through my work, activism, and platform. I’m also a self-love advocate, spreading love through this new community called Sunflower Soul ( and encouraging others to love themselves first. I’d like to be a reminder for people to pursue self-love as much as I can because if you want to care for the planet, people and animals, you must first take care of yourself. Otherwise, you are drawing artificial boundaries and distinctions that only lead to feelings of separation and isolation. I also believe the way you treat yourself affects how you buy your clothes and how you treat others in your life too. You must learn to love yourself before you can love others.

On my self-love journey, I learned that loving yourself is not liking every single thing about yourself. You can love yourself but not like some parts of your body or personality because love always protects. Loving yourself is not easy and it takes time and effort but it is so worth it. Be patient with yourself and most importantly, Be kind to yourself because you will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head.

You’re enough. You are worthy. You are loved.

Modelling book

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