“In high school, I used to always say I’m going to come back to New York and be a big model and actor,” Chloé Véro says, smiling. “I’m still working on the second part.”
At just 21 years old, she’s already crushing step one. In the past year, she has relocated from Miami to Manhattan and booked work with an impressive client list that includes Tome, CoverGirl, Rimmel London, and Chromat to name a few.
Although she dreamed of becoming an in-demand model for years, it wasn’t until she became completely comfortable in her body—and stopped listening to criticisms—that Chloé achieved her dream…
Chloé remembers always being on the bigger side of the body spectrum. As a kid, it never bothered her one way or the other, and she couldn’t understand why it was such a problem for everybody else.
“They said, ‘No. You can’t. You’re too big.’ I was just like, huh?”
“My first vivid memory of being aware of my body was when I was in the first grade,” Chloésays. “I had told my mom and my grandma that I wanted to do gymnastics. They said, ‘No. You can’t. You’re too big.’ I was just like, huh?” Even as a 7-year-old, she knew that she was “super bendy.” She felt strongly that she could learn how to do flips if somebody taught her. Chloé just didn’t get why her family felt differently.
Later on, she remembers relatives telling her, “You’d be so pretty if you were smaller! You’d look so good if you just lost some weight!” In elementary school, her family moved from Queens, New York, to Florida, and the transition was tough. Chloé says, “Everyone decided they didn’t want to be my friend because ‘Ohhh, she’s fat!’” Middle school was equally unforgiving. In seventh grade, a math teacher decided to teach mean, median, and mode by using the individual weights of all of the students. “I was sitting in my chair thinking, do I say 15 less, 20 less? I felt like I had to lie about it,” says Chloé.
By the time Chloé was in high school, the constant negativity started to have an impact. “I would try to do these crazy diets and fitness plans. It would never work, and it was so hard,” she says. Instead of losing weight, the frustration she felt led to stress eating. Chloé ended up hating exercising; she associated it only with trying in vain to please those around her. “Over high school, I was gaining weight. I wasn’t upset about it. I didn’t really care! But all of those pressures…”
Chloé moved to New York to attend City College under her mom’s stipulation: no grades below a B. In a totally new environment, the freshman decided that she would approach fitness on her own terms. She started running as a personal challenge: “I don’t like when things make me uncomfortable, so I had to conquer that. I kind of felt like it was taunting me.”
To her surprise, weight started falling off her frame. Twenty minutes on the treadmill became three miles, then five. Before she knew it, Chloé was doing two-a-days. She remembers walking a mile to class in the morning, going to work as a nanny in the afternoon, heading to the gym for her usual miles, going to her apartment to do homework, and then back to the gym for more running or weights. Rinse, repeat.
“I was so tiny, but if I went up two pounds, I’d think, Oh no! All of my hard work is going away!”
“I was melting,” Chloé remembers. “It felt good...for a small amount of time. Then, I was getting addicted.” Over that summer, she had a wakeup call. Waiting on the airport curb for her mother to pick her up, Chloé watched her mom speed right past her. “She didn’t even recognize me,” Chloé explains.
Chloé realized that she’d become so focused on fitness, she was missing out on life. “If my friends wanted to go out, I would say, ‘No.’ I needed to do my second workout,” she says. “I would go to sleep at 2 a.m. just to make sure I had time to do a night workout.” Another epiphany: She’d always assumed that if she lost weight, she wouldn’t have to worry about weight. Instead, the opposite occurred: “I was so tiny, but if I went up two pounds, I’d think, Oh no! All of my hard work is going away!”
Thanks to getting a C in philosophy, Chloé’s mom had her stay in Florida for a span to get her grades back up. Back at home, Chloé decided to try an experiment: She’d stop running for two weeks and see how it went. As it turned out, it went pretty well. Her body started to return to a more comfortable state and her mind relaxed too. She started concentrating on yoga and meditation. The external pressures of her childhood and the self-driven running addiction of her freshman year started to fade away. She felt happy, calm, and confident.
Once she reached this peaceful headspace, doors started opening too. Chloé soon signed with an agency, moved back to New York to pursue her dream, and now works as a full-time model. To maintain that chill perspective, Chloé starts every morning with an aromatherapy shower, 10 deep breaths (“If I get interrupted, I start over”), a big glass of warm water, and stretches for her back and legs. This routine helps her prepare for a day that often involves a lot of other people putting on her makeup and fussing with her clothes. “I’ve always been very vocal if something is bothering me,” Chloé says. “I can tuck my shirt in. Don’t touch my space. This is my body. I need my moments to myself.”