At the age of seventeen model Michelle Den Hollander, meanwhile 24 years old, almost suffered from an eating disorder. Just in time, she noticed her eating habit was going too far. She changed her eat routine step by step and started following an education to become a nutrition consultant. That was the beginning of her own company Michelle’s Good Food where she has been helping (mainly) models to achieve a healthy lifestyle over the past three years already.
Amsterdam South. I do not come here often. I actually do not know if I have ever been to this part of Amsterdam. Just across the street I see a black sign. ‘Stach’ is written on it in big, white letters. I cross the street and try not to get hit by a bicycle. In front of the store a smell of fresh baked bread welcomes me. Oh, how I love the smell of fresh baked bread. The store is overloaded with food: cakes, colored meringue, chocolate, salads and a lot more. Behind the counter there is a small place to sit, with leather brown sofa’s and some plants. Michelle is sitting on one of these sofa’s.
Michelle was thirteen when she started modeling. She started doing it fulltime after her high school graduation, at the age of seventeen. “I think I have seen all struggles a model ever encounters on his or her path”, starts the model talking. Michelle is 1.86 tall and had to lose weight for the fashionweeks. “But is 1.86 not too tall?” “Yes, it is. My setcard said I was 1.81”, she tells me laughing.
I think I have seen all struggles a model ever encounters on his or her path
“But of course, I had to have the same measurements as shorter models.” And the determined model wanted to achieve those measurements. Michelle went from hip size 89 (which is a good size for models, but not thin enough for haute couture) to 85 centimeters.”The girls in the modelappartments stabbed each other a bit. One girl was paying attention to the amount of carbohydrates in food, the other was counting calories. I started eating less and less until I ate practically nothing”, she tells me while she fidgets with her scarf (it is quite chilly in the room because the door is open).
Michelle did shows for designers like Alexis Mabille and Georges Chakra during the fashionweek – she adds a ‘yay’ to this and tells it with a smile on her face – but Michelle had little energy and even fainted twice. Her mother was startled when she visited her daughter in London, although she knew about Michelle’s situation. “We went eating in an English pub. I ordered a chicken burger and within the first bite I got tears in my eyes. I could not bear it, mentally nor physically.” There is a lot of noise in the shop in the meanwhile. A customer tells way too loud about her new job to the cashier. It gets a bit annoying but my eyes and ears are focused on Michelle’s story. Her story touches me. It gives me goose bumps. “After the first bite, I felt like I had eaten too fast. Like I had been gobbling my food. That was the point where I realized: this is going out of control.”
Within the first bite I got tears in my eyes
Michelle’s Good Food
Michelle gained weight again with the help of her mother. “Then I started to think about this problem. I can not be the only model with these issues.” Michelle wanted to help other models and became a nutrition consultant. The young woman started collaborating with catwalktrainer and former model Kim Vos from Bdifferent. Kim educated Michelle as catwalktrainer and together they combined this with nutrition support. “We work together, but Bdifferent and Michelle’s Good Food are two different companies”, explains Michelle.
I am also just a human
“If I could start all over again with modeling, I would do it different. Good health is really important, but as a seventeen year old I did not get that message.” Michelle tries to pass this important message on her website too, where she shares healthy (and tasty) recipes. From model with nearly an eating disorder to healthy food coach. Does this mean she never eats something unhealthy? “Of course not, I am also just a human”, she says with a smile.