This Former Glamour Cover Model Is Banning the Words “Skinny” and “Fat”

In August 1991, Catherine McCord appeared on her first cover of Glamour *magazine (followed by the coveted September issue cover a year later). A successful model in the ’80s and ’90s, McCord also appeared in campaigns for Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Klein. Now in her mid-40’s, she’s the founder of heathy-eating website, Weelicious, and organic family-friendly food delivery service, One Potato. McCord is also a mom of three—two girls and a boy—and is navigating what it means to be a parent in the digital age. Particularly, how to make sure her kids avoid some of the pitfalls she experienced working in looks-based industry.

Here, in what she calls a “beautiful, full-circle” moment (“Glamour was my first cover, and it’s so dear to who I am and what did it for me,” she says), she opens up to West Coast editor Jessica Radloff about those lessons and more.

Up until I was 13 or 14, I was long legs Lucy. It was, ‘Oh, you’re so skinny,’ or ‘Oh, you’re so tall.’ And people didn’t mean it in a good way. I was 5’11 and there was a lot of teasing, which was so painful. I always wanted to be cute and shorter. But then when I hit high school, it all changed. People started saying, ‘She’s so pretty!’ I didn’t necessarily trust those comments, but people started encouraging me to try modeling and eventually, I agreed. I ended up winning the best personality award in a prestigious modeling contest, and that helped build up my confidence. I could do this, I thought.

Catherine in her pre-teen years.

Catherine McCord

At the end of senior year of high school, I started doing runway modeling, which is basically the equivalent of throwing your clothes off every two seconds. My body, and being comfortable in it, became such a big focus. Eventually, I started modeling for Victoria’s Secret and doing lingerie shoots. The focus on my body got even more intense. Before my first VS runway show, I booked a lymphatic drainage treatment to help me lose every ounce possible. I roll my eyes now, but when you are walking on a runway in your underwear, it definitely makes you self-conscious.

Still, I loved eating. In fact, I was fascinated with food. But I also remember the diet craze feeling pretty inescapable.

In my late teens, I worked out six days a week. I started exercising for the right reason, to feel stronger, but it became about burning calories and abusing my body. I would stay on the treadmill for an hour, and honestly, no one needs to be on a treadmill that long. I felt that I was losing control, and a lot of that was because I had no control over my life. I was always told where to go, what to do, and traveling all over.

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