In the 1990s, Linda Evangelista reigned supreme. She was part of an elite group of supermodels, jet-setting between Europe’s most fashionable cities for runway shows and featured on numerous magazine covers—over 700, to be precise.
Yet while her contemporaries, including Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, continued to excel in their careers even as they were nearing their 50s, Evangelista seemed to disappear from the public eye entirely.
In September 2021, Linda took to social media to share her story and to “right a wrong” that she kept to herself “for over five years”.
“To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving,” the post began. “The reason is I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s Coolsculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised,” the supermodel revealed.
The popular fat-freezing procedure left her suffering from Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), a rare side effect of cryolipolysis, which is the procedure Coolsculpt uses to reduce fat deposits.
“PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, but sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self loathing.”
Evangelista claims she was unaware of the side effect, and in the same month filed a lawsuit against Coolsculpting parent company for $50 million in damages.
Now, Evangelista has revealed the extent of her deformities and how this lawsuit goes beyond reclaiming her self image and self worth.
In an interview with PEOPLE, the supermodel revealed that she started noticing protrusions on her chin, thigh and bra area—the same areas she had the treatment on.
“They’re hard,” the model explained. “If I walk without a girdle in a dress, I will have chafing to the point of almost bleeding. Because it’s not like soft fat rubbing, it’s like hard fat rubbing.”
Despite undergoing two sets of liposuction treatment to remove the PAH, the condition still remains. “I don’t think designers are going to want to dress me with that,” she explained to the publication.
Although rare, Evangelista’s condition gives an eye opening account to the societal pressures placed on aging women, and the extreme lengths they go to to remain conventionally ‘attractive’.
“Why do we feel the need to do these things [to our bodies]? I always knew I would age,” Evangelista said. “I don’t recognize myself physically, but I don’t recognize me as a person any longer either.”
Earlier this year, Naomi Campbell shared her support for her friend in an interview with VOGUE UK. “She’s a strong woman and I think she’s very brave,” Campbell said to the publication. “It takes a lot of courage to come out and speak her truth. I stand by her absolutely.”
Linda’s coming out of hiding aligns perfectly with the release of her upcoming docuseries The Supermodels.
The show dives deep into Linda’s past and explores her coming to terms with her future, despite feeling like the celebrity she once was is gone.
“I’m not done telling my story,” Linda said on social media. “I will continue sharing my experience to rid myself of shame, learn to love myself again, and hopefully help people in the process.”