While other 90s-era supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell have remained busy as of late—Crawford recently recreated her iconic Pepsi ad from 1992 and Campbell continues to star in campaigns—their contemporary, Linda Evangelista has been missing, rarely seen out in public and only posting her face on social media a handful of times over the past five years. It turns out the catwalk legend has been fighting a private battle over the past five years that has left her a “recluse.”
On Wednesday, Evangelista, 56, took to Instagram to bravely open up to her followers about why she has been laying low lately. “To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised,” she wrote.
Evangelista explained that, while the procedure was meant to decrease her fat cells, it increased them, leaving her “permanently deformed.” Since then, she has undergone two unsuccessful corrective surgeries. “I have been left, as the media has described, ‘unrecognizable,’” she wrote.
She continued, saying she has since developed Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), a rare adverse effect of coolsculpting. Evangelista said she was not made aware of the risk of developing PAH before her procedure. “PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing.”
Now, Evangelista says she is engaged in a lawsuit, though she didn’t provide the specifics of the case. “I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story,” she wrote. “I’m so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head held high, despite not looking like myself any longer.”
CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved brand name for cryolipolysis, a nonsurgical procedure used to reduce fat desposits in the body. Evangelista, specifically, says she used the brand name Zeltiq for her CoolSculpting.
Evangelista’s post was immediately met with an array of comments from those both in and outside of the fashion industry, including from January Jones, Jeremy Scott, and Marc Jacobs. “Linda—your strength and true essence are forever recognizable and iconic! Bravo,” Crawford wrote. “Elos I applaud you for your courage and strength to share your experience and not be held hostage by it anymore,” Campbell wrote. “You know I love you. We love you [and are] here for you always right by your side. I can’t imagine the pain you gone through mentally these past 5 years. [You’re] free of it now. Remember who you are and what you have achieved and your influence and all the lives of people you have touched, and still doing so to this very day by sharing your story. Proud of you and support you every step of the way.”