The Devastation Linda Evangelista Feels Isn’t Shallow

She opened up about the pain of her failed cosmetic procedure, but not everyone has sympathy for the supermodel.

Linda Evangelista

by Georgia Aspinall |

When Linda Evangelista first opened up about suffering a negative side effect of a popular cosmetic procedure, the world scoffed. ‘That’s the risk you take’ was a common rhetoric repeated online, alongside ‘You shouldn’t have been so shallow then’ and ‘You should’ve aged gracefully.’

This was back in September 2021, when she claimed that CoolSculpting – a ‘fat freezing’ procedure promoted as a non-invasive alternative to liposuction – left her ‘brutally disfigured’ after she developed Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), a rare side effect where the freezing process causes affected fatty tissue to thicken and expand instead of shrinking.

Linda filed a lawsuit against CoolSculpting’s parent company, Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc, for $50million in damages alleging that she has been unable to work due to the ordeal. In a statement to People, Zeltiq declined to comment on her specific allegations citing pending litigation, but a representative for CoolSculpting defended the effectiveness of the procedure, stating that it ‘has been well studied with more than 100 scientific publications and more than 11 million treatments performed worldwide.’

Now, Linda has opened up about the emotional impact of PAH, much to the same reaction from those determined to believe she is a shallow model exaggerating the heartbreak of failed cosmetic procedures.

Now, much of this narrative deserves discussion. Linda is privileged, not just in fame, wealth and whiteness but pretty privilege too – she is still an incredibly beautiful woman. Her version of disfigurement may not be as severe as others, and we should absolutely have a conversation about the way those born with deformities might feel hearing her words. But what’s not fair to say, is that this is purely an issue of vanity.

Reading Linda’s words in her People magazine issue, it’s clear that this is a woman experiencing deep emotional pain at not just how she looks, but how her livelihood, sense of self and every day activities have been affected.

‘The bulges are protrusions,’ she says of the areas where CoolSculpting hardened her fat cells – her chin, thighs and chest. ‘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.’

In June 2016, she underwent liposuction in an attempt to get rid of the hardened fat cells. After, she had to wear compression garments, girdles and a chin strap for eight weeks or, she was told, ‘the PAH may come back.’ It did, in July 2017 after a second bout of liposuction.

I don't think designers are going to want to dress me.

[I can no longer] put my arms flat along my side,’ Linda says, speaking of her posture. And of her future as a model? She pulls down her shirt to show a protrusion of PAH under her arm bulging out, stating ‘I don't think designers are going to want to dress me with that sticking out of my body.’

‘I don't look in the mirror,’ she adds. ‘It doesn't look like me.’

See, when you see a headline or a clipped quote, one might think this is all about Linda wanting to be thin, wanting to prevent ageing. And that might be how it started, but it’s moved beyond that. Now, this is about a woman who feels she cannot work, cannot move without restriction and at 56-years-old, feels disconnected from herself. It’s not simple vanity, it’s genuine pain.

And to be honest, one must ask, even if this was a vanity issue, even if Linda was simply upset that she didn’t like how this procedure changed her appearance, why does she deserve to be dismissed for that? In a world where women are consistently forced to adhere to ever-changing beauty standards, specifically where a woman’s livelihood rests on meeting those arbitrary goals, it’s perfectly reasonable that she might have a strong emotional reaction when she doesn’t. To dismiss her with claims as ‘shallowness’, as if our entire identity as women isn’t wrapped up in beauty politics, is to invalidate just how much pressure is on women at all times – regardless of how much they already meet those standards.

You can disagree with cosmetic surgery, you can despite the beauty standards that women like Linda have historically benefited from, but lavishing in her feeling as though she no longer does is cruel – and dismissing her as shallow is simply ignorant.

Read More:

Sharing Linda Evangelista's Before And After Pictures Is Cruel

Linda Evangelista Shows Us That No One Is Immune From The Impossible Beauty Standard We Place On Women

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