Cara Delevingne is our modern day bomb shell: embodying elements from both Kate Moss and 1960s icon, Twiggy, with her wide, feline eyes and trademark brows. Yet, Cara isn’t as straight forward as she seems. With over 28 million followers on Instagram and the wardrobe of every 23-year-old woman’s dreams, we assume as on-lookers that she must be happy in her life… but we couldn’t be more wrong.
During her recent appearance at the Women in the World Summit, Cara revealed her battle with depression, the impact it had on her early life and the awareness that needs to be made for young girls.
She opens her interview with an insightful view into the world we live in, remarking on how often,
“In our culture, we are told that if we’re beautiful, if we’re skinny, if we’re successful, famous, if we fit in, if everyone loves us, that we’ll be happy but… that’s not true.”
In the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue each year, with 50% of mental health problems being established by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24. Cara reveals that she has been struggling since the age of 15, after years of working hard at her education to please her parents.
“I really wanted to do well at school to please my parents and my family,” she said. “I didn’t really care that much about school, because I knew I wasn’t very good at it. I think I pushed myself so far that I got to the point where I had a bit of a mental breakdown.”
She mentions having feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts, appreciating the support from her family yet feeling completely alone,
“I wanted the world to swallow me up, nothing seemed better than death.”
Cara was taken out of school, put in contact with a therapist and prescribed anti-depressants for her condition. She managed to return to school but later left at the age of 17, never completing her education but later on remarking, “I just had to get out of there”. This is when Cara discovered modelling and the battle of the body.
Whilst modelling began as a positive aspect for Cara, rejection was a huge aspect of the job, girls often seeing this rejection as something internally ‘wrong’ with them.
After Cara’s big break in Burberry’s spring/summer 2011 campaign, there was an influx of work, leading Cara to both success and recognition. However, the outcome was somewhat bittersweet, with stress and lack of rest, leading to illness.
“I had no concept of saying no to anyone, ever.”
She was later diagnosed with a skin condition called psoriasis that left a rash of ‘welts’ from her legs to her forehead. Her agency’s reaction to this was to simply, take her to a doctor and have her injected with cortisone shots; a temporary cure for the condition. She later on adds that Kate Moss saved her, “she stepped in and picked me up off the floor at a stressful time.”
Kate moss and Cara Delevingne in Burberry’s 2015 campaign for the brand’s My Burberry Eau de Toilette.
After this initial struggle, and a little help from Kate, Cara started writing and tried Yoga; realising that not only would this help keep her flexible and in shape but would help ease her mind from the stresses of everyday life.
What is particularly interesting from this interview, is how this is not a model with bulimia or anorexia nervosa, the two mental health conditions that unfortunately, jump to mind when discussing models and their mental well-being. This is a normal woman who went to school, worried about her parent’s approval and got lucky in the modelling industry. Her depression was an earlier development, not a repercussion of her career. Most importantly, mental illness of any kind should not be overlooked, especially when it can have an impact on anyone at any time.
Cara, I salute you.
Watch the full interview:
If you are suffering or know someone who might need help, please see this page to sign up for therapy.
Text: Millie Bull
Images: Daily Mail, Vogue, nylon.com, MashableUK