My Chocoholism, By Yasmin Le Bon
Sunday Express 5 July 1992

interview: Paula Yates

Too many people think that models are to intelligence what Bernard Manning is to the body stocking. How can anyone be six feet tall, weigh four stone and be witty as well? It is quite enough to be blessed with the sort of hamster-sized bottom that looks good in a Gianni Versace posing-pouch without being globally aware.

But whatever the others do to reinforce the stereotype, Yasmin Le Bon is different. She demolishes the myth that most models have the kind of metabolism that allows them to eat all day without putting on a pound. Ask most of them whether they starve themselves to remain fashionably emaciated, and they will act as though you have suggested they take up nude bungee jumping.

Yasmin had puppy fat as a child and forced herself to survive on a cup of soup and a chocolate bar each day. She admits she used to black out from hunger. Now, aged 26, she eats more sensibly, but she still has to come to terms with her craving for chocolate, which literally overloads her system.

"If I were to eat too much chocolate I know that I would end up shaking on the floor and then passing out," she told me over a strictly healthy lunch.

She believes she may be hypoglaecemic – suffering from low blood-sugar count, which makes her long for chocolates. She has not been diagnosed, but she has most of the symptoms. "People under stress are much more likely to suffer from it than people who aren't," she says. "Although I'm pretty well established in my profession, I'm still involved in the human cattle-call that is part and parcel of a very obsessive world. The awful, sub-human thing about modeling is that you're constantly trying to detach yourself from it and that can be very stressful too. "There are times when I get so hungry I can fall down. I feel weak; I go hot and cold, and I salivate. It's really terrible. In Paris last season, I felt like fainting all the time. Obviously, things couldn't go on that way, and now I try my best to follow a diet that isn't so high in carbohydrates in general and sugar in particular. The best diet for me is eating lots of protein – like fruit, vegetables, and absolutely no tea or alcohol. I did that, and in a matter of weeks, I must say that I felt much better. But it hasn't been easy. For example, because I've cut down on my sugar intake, I don't always have the energy I once had."

She says fellow supermodels Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista have very different bodies. "I'm not sure if they eat regularly, but if they had something really important coming up, they would probably just fast.

"Obviously, it's important for me to keep as fit as I can, and I try to eat sensibly. But every now and then, I ruin it all by buying a bar of Galaxy or two. I'm still a chocoholic, I guess. Somehow, chocolates find their way into my house, into my fridge, into my hand and ultimately, into my mouth. The next thing I know, I'm a nutcase, get a bit wiled, and just flop out. But generally, I think I've got things under control. And of course, now that I've had two children, the shape of my body has changed, and modelling isn't as easy as it used to be. I look like most people do straight after having a child, and I'm still not the same shape as most models anymore."

She admits her hips are "twice the size they were when I was trying to sell the ‘no tits, big hips' look." But she says she just has to accept that fact and believes that as long as she has the confidence in herself, she can make things work.

She still has to go for castings for modeling jobs. "They want to know how you look on film at the time – not six months before. Which is reasonable. But it still feels like a cattle market. At the end of the day, it's you they are talking about, and you can start to feel bitter about these people who think of you like that. You have to have another outlet and for me, having a solid family background has been my saving grace."

There may be drawbacks, but Yasmin is still at the top of the tree. She is presently working for some of the best photographers in the world and is as much in demand as ever. "It's fortunate that today models don't have to be as skinny as they used to be. It doesn't look good and, of course, it can be dangerous."

After Yasmin and I finished our choc-free lunch (masses of pasta and tiny green asparagus), she headed home to her successful pop-singer husband Simon and their daughters Saffron and Amber.

She confides, "I don't think I ever really thought about Simon before I met him. But I had pictures and thought, ‘Yeah, he's a real dish.' He's not romantic – he doesn't buy me flowers, but he is soppy. And he sometimes buys me lots of chocolates. I tell him he could kill me with them."

But as she strode out of the restaurant in a tiny white miniskirt with shocking pink suede boots and a swing to her hips that could stop traffic, she looked a picture of health and happiness.