After undergoing a destructive cosmetic procedure, it seemed like Linda Evangelista was destined to fade out of the public eye. Photographs became few and far between, leaving fans to remember the supermodel as she was in the ’90s at the height of her fame. But after going public with her story, Evangelista has made it clear that she’s not hiding anymore.
Linda Evangelista Ready To ‘Finally Speak’
She was one of the first supermodels—a group of women that dominated the fashion industry like never before throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s. Her peers were Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, and they were some of the most recognizable faces in the world for decades. But after having an adverse reaction to a non-invasive cosmetic procedure, Linda Evangelista thought her modeling days were over.
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“I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” Evangelista told People earlier this year. “I can’t live like this anymore, in hiding and shame. I just couldn’t live in this pain any longer. I’m willing to finally speak.”
In 2015, Evangelista started CoolSculpting sessions—a popular, FDA-approved “fat freezing” alternative to liposuction. In the months following her first visits, the model started to notice that the areas she was trying to shrink with these procedures had actually started to grow. According to Evangelista, the procedures didn’t reduce her fat—it only increased and hardened it.
‘I Thought I Was Losing My Mind’
In response to the change, Evangelista blamed herself. She thought the problem was in her diet or her fitness level. She started eating less and less and exercising more and more. In June 2016, about ten months after her first treatments, she went to the doctor. “I dropped my robe for him,” she remembers. “I was bawling, and I said, ‘I haven’t eaten, I’m starving. What am I doing wrong?'”
That’s when she was diagnosed with Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH)—a rare side effect that appears in less than 1 percent of CoolSculpting patients. PAH is when the “fat freezing” process actually causes the tissue to thicken and expand.
After contacting CoolSculpting with the upsetting news, Evangelista says they offered to pay for liposuction to remove the affected areas—on one condition. Apparently, the offer required the model to sign a confidentiality agreement, barring her from ever speaking about her experience. Evangelista says she refused and paid for the two full-body liposuction procedures herself. But even after taking all of the necessary precautions, the PAH still came back.
From Covering Mirrors To The Cover Of Vogue
It’s been a long journey since then. According to Evangelista, she was haunted by the effects of what should have been a simple, widely trusted fat-removal procedure. She sued CoolSculpting’s parent company for $50 million. She’s since settled the case and insists she’s ready to “put this matter behind” her. But not before publishing her story in the pages of Vogue Britain.
For its September issue, Evangelista is once again gracing the cover of Vogue. Dressed in head-to-toe couture, the supermodel is finally back to doing what she loves. And while the images show what seems to be a miraculous recovery, Evangelista reveals the magic is in the wardrobe and makeup departments.
“That’s not my jaw and neck in real life—and I can’t walk around with tape and elastics everywhere,” she says of the photos that made it to print. “You know what, I’m trying to love myself as I am, but for the photos… I always think we’re here to create fantasies. We’re creating dreams. I think it’s allowed. Also, all my insecurities are taken care of in these pictures, so I got to do what I love to do.”
And this year has truly marked a turn for Evangelista. After hiding from the public for years, she lent her stunning features to the latest Fendi campaign.
It’s clear Evangelista isn’t done with fashion—and fashion certainly isn’t done with her.