My heart sank this weekend when I heard about the death of a promising young model, Ruslana Korshunova. She leaped from the balcony of her apartment to her untimely end Saturday afternoon. A friend said she had just come back from working in Paris, and that she was "on top of the world." I know this is the same account every other blog and news site is reporting. I know that people are searching for answers to why this girl took her own life. I wish she had left some kind of letter revealing her innermost secrets, but she didn't. However, there are reports from various foreign press that Ruslana hinted about depression on her blog, writing things like "I am so lost. Will I ever find myself?"
Ruslana is just one in a list of models that have fallen victim to a lifestyle that nurtures loneliness, self deprecation, and emptiness. These young girls are catapulted into an industry that does not prepare them for the hard work, but pressures them to eat nothing and still appear young and beautiful. Then there are those young models from struggling third world countries that are expected to be the breadwinners of their family at 15. It's just not fair.
So when did modelling become a hazardous occupation? As difficult as it is to believe, being a model has always been risky business. Look at what happened to Gia and Donyale Luna who both died of drug overdoses. And the family tragedy involving sisters Eliana and Luisel Ramos who passed away within months of each other from complications of anorexia and malnutrition. Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston weighed a mere 88 pounds when she died in November 2006.
There are still models out there like Ruslana who feel like life isn't worth living. They are all alone in New York, London, and Paris and looking for someone to trust, a surrogate family to listen and support them during tough times. I hope that wherever Ruslana is, that she is at peace. Her suffering is over, but now it's time for us to reflect and learn from this model suicide.
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