Taking Her Life Back
- Breast cancer advocate and super model Linda Evangelista has spent almost five years hiding from the public. Now, she is ready to open up about her experience and take control of her self-image.
- Evangelista went through changes to her body when a cosmetic procedure called CoolSculpting backfired. The procedure was meant to remove fat, but it instead turned parts of Evangelista’s body into hard numb protrusions.
- Looking ahead, Evangelista is committed to embracing her body and opening back up to the world. “I’m not going to hide anymore,” she said.
The recent years of Evangelista’s life have been weighed down by her experience with a cosmetic procedure called CoolSculpting. CoolSculpting is often described as an alternative to liposuction. Evangelista went through seven CoolSculpting sessions between 2015 and 2016. In September, the supermodel filed a lawsuit against the company for $50 million in damages. She claims that the procedure left her “permanently deformed” and “brutally disfigured” to the point where she is unable to work.Read More
Linda Evangelista: Moving Forward
The change in Evangelista’s body took a devastating toll on her sense of self. “I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” she said. But now she’s fighting back. “I can’t live like this anymore, in hiding and shame,” she said. “I just couldn’t live in this pain any longer. I’m willing to finally speak.”
Her doctor diagnosed her with paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), an uncommon side effect experienced by under 1% of people who go through CoolSculpting. It cannot be fixed by dieting or exercising. Dr. Alan Matarasso, who works as a plastic surgeon in New York City and teaches at Northwell School of Medicine, explained that PAH has the exact opposite effect from what people want when they go in for CoolSculpting. “Patients go in to have something reduced, and now it’s enlarged,” he said. “And the problem with PAH is that, in some instances, it may not go away. In many circumstances the affected areas are no longer amenable to liposuction like they would’ve been in the first place.”
This episode from the original series SN & You shows breast cancer survivors on their journeys to feel comfortable and beautiful in their own bodies.
The irregularities in Evangelista’s body impact her mobility. “The bulges are protrusions. And they’re hard. 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.”
Now, Evangelista is no longer willing to keep herself hidden away from the world. She wants to be as comfortable as she can in her own skin. “Why do we feel the need to do these things [to our bodies]? I always knew I would age. And I know that there are things a body goes through. But I just didn’t think I would look like this,” she said.
She hopes that sharing her story will help her move forward, and that it will help other people going through similar experiences with their bodies. “I hope I can shed myself of some of the shame and help other people who are in the same situation as me. That’s my goal,” she said. “I’m not going to hide anymore.”
Body Positivity and Cancer
Many cancer survivors go through their own journey with their body image after finishing treatment. This is especially true for women. It is hard to ignore the societal pressures surrounding women and their bodies. Other cancer survivors, like Ann Caruso, have struggled with the same kinds of self-doubt.
Ann Caruso spends her days helping celebrities with the way they look and dress. Her take on body image was rattled after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Caruso had 12 surgeries to treat her breast cancer and told SurvivorNet that all of the change really affected the way she saw her body.
“You’re not the same carefree person that you once were, and it was very hard for me to look at myself every day,” Caruso said in a previous interview with SurvivorNet. “It was like I was a totally different person and didn’t fit into any of my clothes for so long.”
But the celebrity stylist has learned a whole lot about femininity and body image since beating breast cancer. She hopes to impart her knowledge upon others dealing with similar struggles.
“Femininity is a state of mind,” Caruso said. “And I think that’s something that we have to remind ourselves.”
Contributing: Abigail Seaberg