Jewish plus-size model shocks German viewers with anorexia photos

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A Jewish plus-size model and reality TV star shocked viewers in Germany with photos of herself from when she was suffering from anorexia while working for a mainstream modeling agency.

The pictures of Polina Kudina, a 22-year-old retail management student from Cologne, aired Oct. 12 in an episode of the German hit show “Curvy Supermodel,” bringing other participants and the head of the show’s panel of judges to tears.

Taken several years ago when Kudina was working for an undisclosed agency, the pictures show the 5-foot-10 model in a condition of extreme anorexia that appears dangerous to her health. She revealed during the show that she had been taking slimming pills before abandoning her modeling career.

Motshegetsi Mabuse, the well-known dancer and television star in Germany who heads the judges’ panel, said that Kudina’s journey personifies the mission statement of the show — namely to help women feel comfortable about their bodies and offset the harmful effects of unattainable beauty standards.


“It can’t be that beautiful women look at the mirror and hate themselves,” she said.

Proclaimed as a “sexy babe” on the show’s website, Polina posed for a photo shoot for the site wearing a sleeveless shirt, shorts and a Star of David pendant.

The show, which according to the MEEDIA rating agency attained 8 percent of viewership among 14- to 49-year-olds in Germany – some 860,000 people – features 10 models vying for a contract with a leading plus-size modeling agency.

More than a third of German adults are overweight and another 13 percent are obese, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index from 2011 in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Weight problems emerged as more serious still in Britain, with 33 and 21 percent of the adult population there overweight and obese, respectively. However, the data from the United States were worse still, with 26 percent of American adults suffering from obesity and another 36 percent being overweight.

Those who are underweight accounted for 2, 2.4 and 1.8 percent of the adult population in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively, in that report.

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