Beverly Johnson: The Model Known for Speaking Her Mind

Model Rivalries and Drug Use Plague the Career of Beverly Johnson

Less obvious were the nagging model rivalries. As her fame grew, Ms. Johnson fretted that younger Black models, Iman in particular, would eclipse her, a prospect that fueled her already mounting anxiety.

The Dark Side of the Modeling Industry

Nor did it help that she and her peers often resorted to cocaine to curb their food cravings. Drugs were an occupational hazard, Ms. Johnson said. “As a model, you had to be a hanger. You could be 90 pounds and chiseled to the bone, and they worshiped you for it. You could not get too thin.”

Battle with Body Dysmorphia

Inevitably, perhaps, she developed the body dysmorphia that plagues her to this day. “I’ve been in therapy for it my whole life,” she said. “Right now I think I’m fat.”

Marital Woes and Escape from an Abusive Relationship

In her stage monologue, as in her memoir, she recalls that she came to rue her two marriages, especially her 1977 union with Mr. Sims, whose infidelities and threatened violence sent her into a tailspin of depression — and more drugs. She sought help from her sister Sheilah, a therapist and school guidance counselor, who, Ms. Johnson related in the interview, asked her bluntly: “Will you die if you stay in this relationship? Will you actually physically die?”

“And I thought, ‘Yes, I will die,’” an epiphany that spurred her to divorce Mr. Sims in 1979. Anansa, a toddler at the time, was sent to live with her father, returning to her mother only in her teens.

A Love Life in the Spotlight

Ms. Johnson was linked over the years with the tennis star Arthur Ashe, the boxer Mike Tyson, and the actor Chris Noth. About a dozen years ago, she settled in Palm Springs, Calif., with Brian Maillian, a financier, who accompanied her to New York last week. They were married in October.

Throughout her career, Beverly Johnson faced numerous challenges and battles that were often hidden from the public eye. While her fame as a model grew, she found herself worrying that younger Black models, such as Iman, would overshadow her. This fear only added to her mounting anxiety.

However, the struggles she faced were not limited to her professional life. Like many models during that era, Johnson and her peers often turned to cocaine to suppress their appetite and maintain their desired physique. She admitted that drugs were an occupational hazard in the industry. The pressure to be thin was relentless, and being a “hanger” was the ultimate goal.

Unfortunately, the intense pressure and scrutiny took a toll on Johnson’s mental health. She developed body dysmorphia, which continues to affect her to this day. Seeking therapy throughout her life, she openly admits to struggling with her self-image and often feeling fat.

Beyond her struggles in the modeling industry, Johnson’s personal life was also filled with turmoil. In her memoir and stage monologue, she reflects on her two marriages, particularly her union with Mr. Sims in 1977. Infidelity and the threat of violence plunged her into a deep depression, leading her to rely even more on drugs. It was her sister, Sheilah, who posed a powerful question that prompted Johnson to leave the abusive relationship: “Will you die if you stay in this relationship? Will you actually physically die?” Realizing the answer was yes, Johnson made the difficult decision to divorce Mr. Sims in 1979.

Throughout her life, Johnson has had high-profile relationships with notable figures like Arthur Ashe, Mike Tyson, and Chris Noth. However, it was her relationship with financier Brian Maillian that brought stability and happiness. Settling in Palm Springs, California, the couple recently traveled to New York together and got married last October.

Beverly Johnson’s story serves as a reminder of the hidden struggles faced by individuals in the modeling industry. From fierce rivalries to battles with body image and abusive relationships, her journey sheds light on the darker side of fame and success.

Original Story at – 2024-01-14 19:43:21

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