At eight years old I decided I wanted to be an astronaut, I absolutely loved physics, and I thought no. I want to work for NASA now. The problem with that was that every year for a holiday, we would go to Spain because six kids on a flight to say, India or South America was just not a viable option for my parents, so we would go to Spain two-hour flight. Now this put my NASA dreams, just it flunked because of the fact that I suffer from air sickness now. People think always that the turbulence or something like that. No, it's not the turbulence. What makes me get sick on the aeroplanes is the fact that everyone's chewing spearmint chewing gum. You know you get on the flight and that horrible smell, which is spearman, it's Wrigley's, spearmint, chewing gum. Everyone is chewing that so I get very, very nauseous on a flight. So NASA dreams that was out the window. So then I thought okay. What'S next, I became obsessed with the x-files, especially agent, Mulder there's, my absolute crush. I remember me and my sister would watch just back-to-back episodes. We would do full-on marathons and I thought, okay FBI. This is something I could do couldn't really be FBI because I'm not America and but I thought okay, I could do mi5 mi6. The problem with that is that I told everyone that I wanted to be an mi5 were an mi6 officer, so that was another option out the window. So I was a super geek. I still am a super geek, strict Catholic schooling. The skirts had to be two inches below the knees. Mine was always two inches above the knees I used to. I used to tell the teachers it's because ma'am I'm tall, that's it I'm growing, and so I used to get in a lot of trouble for that, and but I feel that from that point, when I was in secondary school, I was destined for fashion because at 14 years old, I had one of little purse belt things which is now all like in range now, so I was like way ahead of the times: they're, not 14 years old in Catholic school. But for me I never knew anything about fashion, absolutely nothing. I just thought I would go into like politics or you know my mom said I argued a lot. I'D be very good at law, something like that. But then I got scouted and I didn't know anything about fashion but being a super geek. I wanted to then learn everything about fashion. I thought, if I'm gon na, do this. I'M gon na do this properly. So I would do my research. I would go on all the websites like models. Comm fashion monitor everything, and now all my other friends, they were super geeks as well, so no one knew anything about fashion, so I was literally just thrown in on the deep end and it was an opportunity to travel the world see the world. Add more to my air sickness, you know, try and build up some immunity against that and you'd meet so many girls from like different countries. I would love to know the idiot that for 10 models in a model apartment was a great idea. You were like basically thrown in at the deep end and to the rest of my friends into the world. You know I was the face of a ddos originals. I would see my face in Times Square I've shot for Vogue eight times now, and I've done the Kingfisher come in two twice. You know I'm traveling from LA Miami New York, London, Europe, everything so everyone's just thinking, oh wow, it's like so amazing you're like living. The life you know I mean I went to a Lakers game. I remember that I went to a Lakers game in LA I didn't watch the game. I ate the food, the food was divine. It was some of the best chocolate cake I've ever had and and your meeting of your biggest like Hollywood stars. You know Leonardo DiCaprio, Zac, Efron and you're posting this all in your social media and everyone's like wow. Your life must be so amazing, like what do you have to complain about? The thing is, this is literally how everyone thought we were living our lives, every single model that you know you're pretty, like you know, what do you do you around? You get your picture. Taken life is great, but really what most of us were like were a mess. We became obsessed with our weight. I would say it's not just in the fashion and film industry, young girls, all the time. You know whether they look up to their parents or their friends or you know, work. Colleagues, you become very conscious about your weight, but every time you would go into your agency, your manager would be there just holding a tape measure, and it would literally just give you horrific anxiety, like at five foot. Ten, my weight was around eight stone. I had a 23 inch waist, which is around the same as a ten-year-old child and 34 inch hips and the rest of my model. Friends are all the same height. So for us, it's not that we thought it was normal, but we felt that it was linked to our success, the skinnier. We were the more things we would get, but we each had such bad body dysmorphia that it just it never clicked that this is how we actually looked. I look back at pictures now and this wasn't even that long ago it was three years ago three and a half years ago, and now I see the picture and I'm like damn like, I was actually really really skinny and you can't really talk to the other Girls around you, because these are girls you're competing with you know, you've got like big money, jobs and you're all up against each other, not just the ones that you're living with in like a tiny model apartment where you're charged like ridiculous amount of money a month For a bunk bed, you're like competing with girls in other countries, so you become very, very obsessed with weight. I remember I was living on five hundred calories a day and burning 2,000 calories. I could easily tell you from that time how many calories there was like in a slice of bread like even now like I know, but that's just because of the time period like if it's a small one, it's around 60 three calories, the largest Isis around 103 And you just became obsessed with these numbers. If I wanted a piece of chocolate, they literally had the restraint just to have that one piece and then be like okay. I can't I can't have any more because then my manager will be pissed off and then I'll lose work and you just get trapped in this cycle, and I couldn't really talk to my friends about it. You know, sometimes you feel that your problems like to you, you feel they're quite minor, so you don't want to burden your friends. So I never told my friends, I would wear baggy clothes and you know I've always been on the slim side. So no one really realized anything and when you're traveling the world by yourself, you literally are by yourself. You don't get to take your friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend anything like that. You get on that flight. You have your bag, you get off in whichever country or location you meet a brand-new set of people, maybe other people you've worked before you do your job back on that flight and that's it it's just like a cycle. Most people think, oh, that's so exciting, but you actually don't have anyone to confide in because you feel that you can't trust anyone and you feel that people are gon na judge. You, and you know, people will call you ungrateful and a lot of us have a problem with that. We feel that we don't want to burden other people, so it was a very stressful time during my life and it was just a vicious cycle and I me and the other girls in the industry we just we got used to it being normal. You know being obsessed with weight being obsessed with, like our looks, we were never happy and it's not just in the fashion industry. I meet people all the time who they feel that if they were a particular outfit or if they were a little bit taller or if they're a little bit skinnier, then life would be easier. You know that everything you know you have to make yourself this way or that way, and then your life will be amazing, doesn't work like that. Sadly, so there's one of my favorite sayings, I read it, so I think it's like a Japanese quote where they say that you have three faces. You have the face that you show to the world. You have the face that you show to your close friends and your family and then there's your third face, which is your truest face, and it's actually who you are. We spend so much of our time and our lives seeking validation from other people that we actually forget to live and figure out who we are. I remember I went to a casting once and a casting director. They don't like to mince their words. He was like what are you and I was just thinking. Well, I'm a real girl. You know what I mean. What am i, and because things even like the color of your skin, would play a part or you know where you're from people would love to pigeonhole. You even every day in your lives, people will say: oh no, like you're the jock or like you're the cool girl and everything like that, and it was just I didn't even know who I was. I just forgot to be me, and the thing is with all of that, going on you're not able to confide in anyone. It puts a massive pressure on your friendships and your relationships. Now I have what I would say my model and film friends and then my normal friends, my normies, my normal people, and it puts a big stress on that. In the sense you find out who your real friends are. I'Ve been a big believer in the fact that, just because someone's known you ten years doesn't mean they'll, you know care any less. Will care anymore about a person who you've just met. I believe that time is a man-made thing. When you connect with someone you connect with someone people, I've grown up with, I thought they'd be in my life for the rest of my life. I would say, because I was so consumed with my work life and with all the pressures that were on me which to me they were major pressure. Some people would be like. Oh, those are minor, there's like other things going on in the world, but to me like these, things were paramount in order for me to achieve things to the next level, so I would lose relationships. I would lose friendships, but then there were the ones that would stick by me put up with my erratic behavior, because I would be super snappy trust me when you're on 500 calories a day, anything will literally piss you off, and so it was a massive stress And you would miss like I've missed so many important things like in terms of birthday parties or weddings. Most importantly, for me, my pets birthdays, like I would hate when I would have to miss my pets birth, because I'm obsessed with my cats and my dog, and but I thought no, no, I have to work. If I get this big booking, then it will lead to this and then my platform will be bigger and then I can do more charity and this and this so I was always on. Like 24/7, I never switched off. People said: try yoga, try meditation, I'm like! No! No, that's not. For me. I want to do hardcore Barry's boot camp type workouts. So it was no surprise that at the end of 2016 I went to my doctor's. I suffer from horrific migraines. He was like. Could it be stress-related? I was like no, not stress-related, I'm fine, I'm good, so I was sitting there with my doctor and he says so Elena. What can I do for you - and I remember this - is the end of 2016. It was cold, like I had a huge jacket on, I mean it was like super like fluffy and everything I felt that I looked like crap. I did, and I just I started - crying just crying and crying and crying and he was like what's wrong and I just said to him: I feel, like I've left everyone down, I've, let myself down. I have so many regrets. I wish I did this. I wish I did that you know I have to support this. I have to support all these people. I don't know how to cope, and literally I was just saying to him like tell me what I should do give me a plan, I'm so used to being told what to do and having a schedule that I'd reached breaking point. So at that point end of 2016 sitting there with my doctor. He diagnosed me with depression, because that does run in my family and I had severe anxiety. He said. Oh, I can give you some medication. I was like no, no, it's fine. Just tell me like what to do. He was just like you need to breathe. You need to take a step back and breathe. He was like come see me again in one month time, even if I'm busy just come straight in obviously I didn't go up and see him back again in a month. I thought it's fine. I can handle this. I just need some more sleep so, and I didn't tell anyone. This is the first time I've actually told like a massive bunch of people. What my doctor said to me: only two people knew and my partner at the time didn't even know and my best friend Luke and my friend Liza were just you know. We were just talk, but we never really spoke about it because there's certain things that you know, I don't know whether it's that people aren't equipped with it or you know they don't know what to say, they're, so scared about saying the wrong thing. So it was just rushed to one side, but Luke bless his heart. I'Ve known him for like 12 years or something like that. He just kind of like upped his friendship level, which I really appreciate him for. I won't tell him that to his face will get too arrogant, but no, he really stepped up the mark and but nothing really changed. I was still stuck in this vicious cycle. You know they say it's life, I'm just like was a horrible like vicious cycle, and the thing is: is that one day I snapped again it's like minus 15. I can't handle the cord. I can't handle the hot. I like lukewarm, gloomy London temperature that works for me and I'm standing there through immigration. I always get stopped. I always get searched because I'm a young female traveling alone and I'm thinking in my head. I have a law degree. I'M not gon na risk that to carry drugs or anything like that. You mental but then, but then the thing I liked about American security is that you've got the South Americans, so they see my name they're like Elena, I'm like in my head. I'M like it's Elena, but okay, I like almost bad and then he's like. I go to see that person and now I actually look like my passport picture. When I land I had the most annoyed resting bitchface, which is actually my general face. So I match my passport picture and so they say go to that other man. So I go over slap. My passport down, I thought you know if I get in trouble whatever I have a law degree I can take on the Americans, and so he asked the usual questions. What'S your name in my head, I'm thinking you've got my passport. You know your net, my you know my name and he's like Oh buddy, like what do you do? What are you doing here? I'M like I'm a model I'm here to like see some shows and he was like you're a model and I was like excuse me: do I not look like a model? It'S been a seven-hour flight, I've thrown through horrific like turbulence. What do you mean? Am i a model and he was just like? No, no, no, I didn't mean I'm, I know seriously like what did you mean? Do I not look like a model like what tell me what is the problem is how I'm dressed. So I really actually took that to heart because you're just in this mindset where you need validation from people and like if someone says, oh, you look good. You then automatically feel good, but you should feel good anyway. It shouldn't have to rest on someone else's opinion of you now, I'm obsessed with macaroons, but these specific macaroons that I had when I was in New York when I was there on previous trips, when I was on my 502 calories a day. These were literally the 500 calories that I would consume the macaroons, and only Whole Foods sells them. I went to the first Whole Foods they didn't have them went to the second one didn't have them. I went to ten Whole Foods stores because I wanted these macaroons and my London manager. Now my former manager called me and he said. Oh, I see you're in New York, I'm like yeah. Why, at the same time, I'm pushing a trolley around trying to find my macaroons. So I'm like 80 % focused on macaroons 20 % focused on him and I'm walking around being like yo yo, I'm in New York. I'M attending this. I'Ve got Oscar de la Renta, blah blah blah, and then I said to him. You tell me what's happening for London Fashion Week and he said to me: you know we feel that you're not the best version of yourself. I literally stopped the trolley in the aisle. I was like. Excuse me, he was like you know. Elena, do you feel happy? Do you feel that you're, like the best you could possibly be, and at this point I'd done like pauran Psalms? I had like a loyal fan following in India and in London. You know I had like campaigns worldwide and I was thinking, excuse me and he kept saying to me: are you the best like possible, like version, and I wasn't a size zero at this time I was like a 2 to 4, which is like a size 6 To 8, which is generally what I usually am - and I was I said to him, I said: do you want me to go back to being a size zero? Is that what you're saying and he was like? No, no, no, because, obviously an agency can't tell you to be a size zero. He said you know we'd be happy if you were a size, zero or sizes 16, but we want you to be happy and I'm standing there Whole Foods and I'm looking. I am damn happy. I am the best version that I can be. I'Ve done this I've done that I'm like who the hell are you to tell me whether I'm happy or not, so I'm standing, I'm shouting at Whole Foods. I don't care. Americans are looking at me, I'm standing in the middle, but I was still scanning for my macaroons but saying to this I'm saying to my former manager, I'm like how dare you tell me that, like I'm not good enough, I'm like I'm damn good. I'Ve done like back-to-back editorials back-to-back covers. I am a something I am a somebody and at that point I knew my worth and at that point he was fired, and that was the thing that I really needed for it to click. In my mind, to think that I have some value and that's when it was like the skies opened. I realized that I'd spent so much time. Believing and following and doing what other people said. You know whether it was my parents saying: oh you know, you spent much time traveling focus on your law, ex-boyfriends saying all the relationships you're. You know it's over because of you that I didn't know my worth. I didn't know who I was and at that point I had enough, you know I mean I think I still would have gone through the same thing if I pursued like practicing law, because I've spoken to other people who you know these issues are very relatable, you Feel that who you are is validated by other people and when you discover that you are somebody and that you have a value to who you are just as you are that's when everything actually changed. I stopped looking at labels on clothing. I'M like thinking, I don't care. This is size zero. This is a size 12, I'm not gon na. Let this little piece of crap label tell me how I feel about myself, which was like a massive turn from someone who would be obsessed to make sure they fit into a double size. They were actually at one point, and I would be obsessed with that, whereas now - and at that point I just didn't care - I haven't weighed myself actually and like must been two years now, two and a half years. I refuse to stand on scales because I'm not gon na let some little kg or whatever like pounds or whatever tell me like what mood I'm gon na be in you know I started to enjoy my relationship with food. I did pizza. I try not to finish the whole box. I'D have like maybe three slices instead of six, but it's because I knew for me that I'm good enough for me. I don't care if other people don't like me, my best friend jokes out, like you know, literally my attitude is I walk out my mother's womb, saying I'm not here to be liked, I'm just here. You know I just want to live, that's it, and for me that was just the real turning point. Another thing was that we all think that failure is like a bad thing or like rejection is bad. It means that you're not good enough. Now, when you're modeling and you're acting it's constant back to back, and that is a vicious cycle, you think that you're not worth anything you just flip. The mindset just be like okay. Clearly, I wasn't what you're looking for clearly you're blind. I would have been great, but you know something: that's fine, so you just flip that mindset and take it as a positive okay. This failure happened because I have to go back to the drawing board and see what I can do next, that's how you just you flip it, and each and every one of us has a story. You know whether we like to admit it or not. You know everyone's problems are valid, so never ever think that you know your problem is minor, there's other things going on in the world, but what you have to do is just refocus and realign and figure out what it is. What you want to do, for you and you'll have some of your best friends or your family say that the you know disappointed all. You should do this and you should. You should do that, but you're not living your life for them. You'Re living your life. For you and you only have one life at the end of the day, you want to be like 90 years old. Well, I plan on being over 100, but you know, and you want to look back and think yeah I lived it my way. I did things my way. People like some people, say to me. Oh Elena, you're, so aggressive. I might wan na no, not aggressive, assertive get enough get a thesaurus, please you know it's just you have to do things your way. Another thing I learned through the industry was to say no, not with the hashtag me too thing, but to say no in terms of I did things that I wanted to do. You know that there were times when I felt I had to do like a tissue or a job, because I didn't want to upset my manager and if I didn't do the job, then this other person wouldn't book me again. But you get a lot of power by saying no yeah people might not like it. So what it's your life, it's your energy that gets drained when you're, giving yourself to so many people, and that I only realized on my birthday this year back in August, because I would want to do everything to help everyone else around me to make their life Easier, so in terms of the charity work I do, I mainly focus on neutering of the strays, because on one person I can't I can't do everything. I don't have a huge bank balance, a nice bank balance but nonetheless, like it all goes on my charity work and but I would go over and be on my way to like help other people they'd say: oh, can you drop me into the vet or something And my partner at the time said to me Elena: they survived before you they're gon na survive. After you just say: no you're, not a taxi service, because people sometimes don't realize how much they take from you. Now it's nice to be generous and to offer there's another thing to be repeatedly drained, so I started to say no, my manager would be like. Oh Elena, are you free on this date? I black. Why she'd say? Oh, this client really likes you next question budget and then she'd be like. Oh it's this this this. If I felt like doing it, I would be like okay yeah I'll, do it, but then, if I didn't feel like doing it, I'd be like no. I don't want to do it left it at that. You know. I didn't feel the need to explain myself if I don't want to do something, I'm not going to do it. So I learnt to be me, don't be happy. I chose cats because what I have five, but I have a dog and that doesn't include the cats I have in India. I literally landed four days ago. The day I landed within one hour, my driver said or ma'am. I didn't want to tell you, but someone dumped two kittens in the building. One is hiding in the car. So within one hour of landing, I'm on the floor of a car trying to pull a kitten ow couldn't catch the other sibling until yesterday caught him. So now I was like you cannot resist me. I will catch you so now. I have five with me and Bombay, and now I learn to be me and I stop caring. What people thought of me. Oh you're, like you're, so boring you don't go to parties. I'M like Hello, I'm watching like reruns of Law & Order, there's 24 seasons. Each season has about 26 episodes. I have a lot to get through and you know, if I'm not doing that. Sometimes I just want to chill. I don't want to do anything I'll. Go to the theater I'll go have like nice dinners I'll just chill with my cats and I'll read a book and I'll be what's happening. My friend that lives down the road making plans canceling with her. You know so a lot of us forget to learn to be ourselves. Some of us don't even know who we are: we've spent our whole lives being pigeon-holed or told this is what you are. This is what makes you good, or this makes you bad blah blah blah. I stopped caring, even when my ex-boyfriend, who is my ex-boyfriend for a reason, would say you know. Oh you should do this. Oh you're, not nice, to this person, I'm like I can't be fake. This is who I am you either take it or leave it, and there was actually this really funny meme. I couldn't find it it's somewhere on my phone so whenever I would argue my ex-boyfriend and when we have actually broke up there's this meme of Kim Kardashian like laughing saying I'm gon na go from this to what I'm like you go, find yourself at the law. Undergraduate another model, another actress, another person that does all their charity work. Good luck with that! I, like your so I just I learned to be me and I learned to be happy when people say to me in interviews these days or who are you I'm just like? I don't know, I'm just Elena, that's it I'm doing my bit day by day. I know what I want to do for me and I do things my way if people don't like it, I'm like well bye. You know, I don't see your opinion, adding value to my bank balance if you're gon na give me an opinion and give me a bank transfer, I don't accept checks, you know, then then then I will listen. Otherwise, I'm like no. So I think that is the main thing is that you have to accept that life is hard, and you know you get those days where you just think. Oh, why does this always have to happen? To me, so-and-so has such a good life. You know it's not fair and there are times where you feel that you're just surrounded by such darkness, but what I can promise you is that you can fall down a hundred times, but you'll get up that 101 time. That'S what you've always got to remember that you may feel that you're literally drowning in that darkness. But there is a light. You just have to figure out the correct path. Just because one door opens, you just find another door and you kick it down. If that one doesn't open, you kick down another one. You kick down another one until you achieve what you want to achieve, but you achieve it for you not for anyone else. You have to learn to live your life for you. So for me, that's what I learn. I learn to be my own warrior. I literally I save myself, I mean. Sometimes it would be nice because I believe in Disney I'm one of those people. I believe that you know Prince Charming, should come and save me, but now I'm like oh you'll, do it wrong? Let me just save my seat, I'm like. Let me just save myself. It'S fine, I'm good. I got this so the one thing that I have to say to all of you is just be you and be happy, go out and achieve your goals, and just because you think, oh no, but my best friend said this or my boyfriend said this or my Mom said I should do this, you know, take it on board if you want ignore, we'll, take it with a pinch of salt and just sprinkle that masala somewhere else seriously focus on living your life for you, because you only get one life, so you have to Give it your best best ultimate best shot and nothing is impossible. You know if you believe in something truly stand by it. So what if the odds against you like you, just make it happen, so I will leave you all with the factors. Be your own warrior, live your life and be happy just be you. Thank you.
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