Supermodel Beverly Johnson Says She Used Cocaine, Ate ‘Two Eggs and a Bowl of Rice a Week’ to Stay Thin Early in Her Career

“I saw my bones looking back at me," the supermodel said of her unhealthy lifestyle during her thinnest modeling days

<p>Theo Wargo/Getty Images</p> Beverly Johnson in New York City on Jan. 10, 2024.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Beverly Johnson in New York City on Jan. 10, 2024.

• Supermodel Beverly Johnson used cocaine and restricted her diet to stay thin for photoshoots in the 1970s and 1980s

• She and other models were congratulated for their extremely thin frames

• She ditched her unhealthy lifestyle when her mom held up a mirror and Johnson saw her bones

Beverly Johnson is revealing the extremes she went to in order to look “chiseled to the bone” during the height of her modeling career.

The 71-year-old supermodel revealed in a new interview with Page Six that in order to stay thin for photoshoots in the 1970s and 1980s, she used cocaine, which is known to have appetite-suppressing effects.

“Everyone used drugs back in the day but that particular drug for models was used because we did not eat,” Johnson said, adding that she and several other models were also “led to believe” at the time that “cocaine was not addictive.”

“I remember eating two eggs and a bowl of brown rice a week,” she continued. “I would be shaking in a cab, and I would say pull over because I have to get a bag of M&Ms.”

Related: Beverly Johnson Reveals She Married Brian Maillian in Secret Vegas Wedding for Her Birthday

The diet led to an unhealthy pattern for the model who noted that she “would just stop and get the shakes,” but would often still get praised for her thin features.

“...Every time you came to work they would say, ‘Yes! Chisel to the bone girl. Yes,’ like congratulating you. Nobody really told you the truth,” she shared.

Johnson said she was eventually able to break out of the unhealthy routine thanks to her mother, who got her out of the bathtub one day and made her look at herself in a “three-way mirror.” The incident finally opened her eyes to the toll her lifestyle was taking on her body. 

<p>Tom Cooper/Getty Images</p> Beverly Johnson in Denver on Nov. 18. 2023.

Tom Cooper/Getty Images

Beverly Johnson in Denver on Nov. 18. 2023.

Related: Modeling Trailblazer Beverly Johnson Returns to NYFW Runway for Dennis Basso 40th Anniversary Show

“It was the first time I saw my bones looking back at me. It was a major wake-up call,” she told the outlet, adding that she’s been sober for at least 50 years.

Since becoming the first Black woman to grace the cover of U.S. Vogue in 1974, Johnson has been outspoken about equality and representation in the fashion industry.

She also recently made a runway comeback, walking in several fashion shows including Sergio Hudson and Bibhu Mohapatra's 2022 shows and Dennis Basso's 40th anniversary show at New York Fashion week in February.

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This appearance marked the second Fashion Week Johnson walked in after decades of exclusively working on editorial and commercial projects. Since reviving her runway career, which had only consisted of "a few shows with Calvin Klein and those special clients" prior to these appearances, Johnson has been receiving her flowers from a younger generation of models she helped pave the way for.

"They must have gave the girls a lesson," she told PEOPLE of being backstage with young models who praised her work. "They were all like, 'Oh, Ms. Johnson, we're so happy you paved the way for us.' I was almost in tears. They were so honest and genuine. And tall! There was not a girl under six feet!"

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