Of all the possible answers, I didn’t expect this one. Perhaps being intimidated by an oversaturated industry — sure. But from the tall Italian girl with the curvy hips and small waist, her looks were the last thing to be worried about.
“So a little background story,” she continues.
“I was sick when I was going into high school — I had appendicitis, and of course, Italian parents, they never believe you… so it got really bad. It perforated and I almost died. Long story short, I spent two months in the summer in the hospital, and I was really, really sick, so I lost weight. I think I was 110 lbs. going in, and I was 80 lbs. coming out.”
I try to picture that in my head. I can’t.
“So from then, I didn’t know what portion control was. I didn’t know what willpower was. I just ate. Because everyone, especially in an Italian family, would tell me to eat, and keep eating, and you’re too skinny, so eat. Even if I was full, I would still finish my plate.”
An image of her family surrounding her at the dinner table drifts into my head. I picture her grandmother bringing her second and third servings, and her sister’s concerned looks towards her size.
“I grew to have this aversion to food,” she continues. “I had a bad relationship with it and I didn’t know how to gauge myself. My sister is also really skinny, and looking at her fashion and how so many things look on her and fit her, versus me? Oh my god. Hideous. Because it just doesn’t work for my body type. All throughout high school I wouldn’t wear jeans even.”
I think about the idea of coping again. We all cope in different ways. I have begun to realize that my way of coping is by storytelling. In a strange, and almost poetic way, telling her story does wonders for my heart — for my spirit.
Giulia continues. “I didn’t like feeling restricted. I wouldn’t buy my size. So finally when I went to university, I bought a size six pair. I’ve come to realize that I think it’s the biggest thing I’ve had to overcome in the fashion industry, because it’s sad. You want to explore this kind of look but you know no matter what, it will not look the same on you as it does on a model or someone else. As someone who is not a size two or a size four, it’s hard.”
She pauses again, and we look at each other.
“I think that’s all of my questions,” I say quietly.