In a world where girls are easily chewed up and spat out, it takes strength and perseverance to be able to maintain longevity in modeling. Between the luxurious runways and glossy pages of campaign ads, lies the harsher reality of conformity and weight issues. Even for supermodel Lara Stone, the ride was not an easy one. Her meteoric rise to the top left her with body images issues and alcohol dependencies, but now, sober and confident, she admits that those glamorous images are not quite as they seem.
Born December 20, 1983 in Mierlo, Netherlands to a Dutch mother and English father, model Lara Stone was the eldest of two daughters. First scouted in the Parisian metro while on a vacation with her family in France, Stone thought it was strange considering her looks at the time. “In school I was always the funny-looking, tall, skinny kid that got made fun of because of my weird teeth,” she tells The Guardian. “When someone comes up and says you should be a model, it's the last thing you expect to hear." With a fairly normal childhood consisting of a stay-at-home mom and a working dad, she never really considered modeling as a career; she believed that she needed to mimic her traditional family’s ways, “you think that’s what your life is going to be; meet a nice man, get married and have some babies” she told Stylist. But her parents had always instilled in her the idea of growing up to be anything you want to be, and so she began to pursue the notion of modeling.
Saying it was nothing but a rocket straight to the top would be the farthest thing from the truth. After entering a modeling competition held by Elite, she was signed at the age of 15 (despite her loss), and soon after moved to a flat in Paris with other aspiring models. Finding very little work, and anything that did come along consisting of small catalog gigs, she held on, pushing through despite every sign suggesting she should abandon her dream and go back to the Netherlands. “I didn't want to move back in with my parents so I stuck it out. If I hadn't, I might be working at McDonald's” she told The Guardian. After several years of a largely failed career, she switched to IMG models and immediately began to book shows.
In 2006 at 22, a veteran age by industry standards, she walked her first big runway show for Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, before becoming the new face and muse of the company the next year. As the leading model for the campaign in one of the biggest houses in fashion, Stone was getting snatched up by designers left and right, booking runway shows, editorial spreads and international covers. Her whirlwind career sent her to the cover of Vogue and back, making her one of the biggest names in modeling. It was the pressure of the success and body image that started Stone down the path of alcohol and diet pills that lead her to rehab in 2009.
At five feet ten with a size 4 waist, Stone is anything but fat, yet in the world of fashion she’s bigger than most of her stick-thin contemporaries, leaving critics calling her plus sized or curvy “but you know they mean fat,” she says in Vogue. Even the magazine’s own Anna Wintour had something to say on Stone’s weight in her January 2010 issue “I hope that Lara's success as a model, even though her image does not fit into the existing norms, will inspire the industry to rethink its current preferences." Trying everything she could to lose the extra weight so she could fit in the sample sizes proved more dangerous than advantageous. “I even tried pills, but they made my heart race,” she said. Turning to alcohol to try to soothe the constant rejection and ostracism from stylists and designers, it slowly took over her life, making her a violent drunk who started fights and would get into physical altercations with those around her. “I used to love slapping people in the face when I was drunk. I thought it was really funny, so I did a lot of that. I'd pick fights with doormen and bouncers and stuff a lot. Ex-boyfriends. But nobody ever punched me back,” she explained to Marc Jacobs in Interview Magazine.
Although no one in the industry reached out to help Lara with her addiction, she was able to come to the realization that she needed help on her own; telling Jacobs “The drinking was getting way out of control. I just didn't recognize myself anymore…So I was like, ‘I can't live like this.’ It was just this really awful feeling of becoming a totally different person and not being able to control it at all. Then I tried to not drink, but that didn't work. So I figured I should just go to rehab.” Entering Stepping Stones rehab in Cape Town, South Africa, she spent a month working on her addiction and body issues trying to regain some semblance of herself. After leaving rehab in 2009 she hasn’t had a drink since, and now sees herself in a whole new light. “People still tell me I'm fat, but when I look in the mirror, that's not what I see.”
In 2009 she met British comedian David Walliams, who swept her off her feet and proposed within 10 months of their first date. Marrying in May of 2010 at London’s Claridge Hotel, they hosted an event worthy of their star status, with designers, comedians, models, actors and actresses all in attendance. With a bridal gown envisioned by her close friend, designer Riccardo Tisci, Stone looked beautiful toasting her marriage with popcorn instead of champagne. In December of 2012 Walliams announced the couple’s pregnancy via Twitter, and Stone gave birth to a healthy baby boy on May 7 of this year.
Winning awards like the 2010 British Fashion Award Model of the Year, and gracing the cover of international Vogue magazines over 10 times, have set Stone up as one of the biggest supermodels in fashion—ever. Named one of the world’s highest paid models by Forbes this year, she comes in tenth, behind names like Giselle, Kate and Miranda—and she was out for a time because of her pregnancy and childbirth. For all the stardom and glamour that comes along with being a supermodel, Stone remains the down-to-earth, awkward girl from Mierlo, “In real life, I'm very shy, but people think I'm this angry, sexy kind of… god knows what they think!” she tells Jacobs in Interview Magazine, “And there I am in front of them, nervous and blushing and stuttering and whatnot. So I'm definitely not the person you see in pictures. I mean, in pictures, you look like something you're not.”