Australian model Tione Hawkins has spilled the beans on the sleaze behind the glitz and glam of fashion. She has revealed that young models in Milan are regularly offered drugs, forced to starve themselves and are exposed to the seedy sex trade.
Hawkins went to Milan at the age of 17 with the dream of becoming Australia's next international supermodel.
However, she left the Italian fashion capital disillusioned and disappointed, reports News.com.au.
Referring to visits to her Milan modelling agency, Fashion, she said: "I was told: 'If you want to get this job, then don't eat for a week.' "
"I've seen girls who were definitely starving themselves. You don't sit around talking about it, but you don't get that thin by exercising and eating healthily. It was actually quite disturbing. I'm lucky I went: 'I don't want the work that much; I want to be alive two years from now,' " she added.
Hawkins, who is now 25, said models in Milan had to attend as many as 15 castings a day and had to pay back the money the agency spent on their air fares from Australia with money they received from modelling jobs.
"When you're in Milan and you're a model, everything's for free - but everything has a price," she said.
The beauty said that during a stint in Milan, she saw her model flatmates being taken out at night by older men.
"Young girls were going out with 30- and 40-year-olds, getting into trouble with drugs and probably having sex as well. It's a hard city for a young girl when you've been given all this stuff on a platter. It's hard to see that there's a price attached to it," she said.
Nine years later, with a portfolio that includes an Elle magazine cover, editorials for Vogue Australia and Harper's Bazaar and countless catwalk appearances around the world, Hawkins is finished with international modelling.
Since a three-month stint in Munich 18 months ago, she has restricted herself to local catwalk and editorial work.