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Karen Elson feels 'sad' over naked photos taken early in her career.
The 42-year-old supermodel opened up about the exploitation she experienced as a teenager, now questioning why those photos were ever taken in the first place.
She said: "I just wanted to please everybody. I was 16 and I wanted to make it as a model and I thought ‘OK, they want me to be naked, I guess I follow their lead’. I look at these pictures and I feel sad, I think ‘Gosh, how was that allowed to happen...why throughout my career was it that most of the time I’ve done nudes no one asked me if I was comfortable with it?"
Karen was a speaker at 'The Bazaar at Work Summit' in London on Tuesday (23.11.2021) and was in conversation with Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Lydia Slater
The star also admitted that if she could give her younger self any advice, it would be to stop trying to "fit in."
She explained: "I spent too many years trying to fit in, trying to be something somebody else wanted me to be … I used to overthink everything and feel so insecure. I doubted myself all the time, and I wish I had a mentor back then who could’ve said: "Just do you."
These days, however, Karen - who is mother to Scarlett Teresa, 15, and Henry Lee, 14, with ex-husband Jack White of The White Stripes fame - is much more comfortable in her own skin today, something she puts partly down to motherhood.
She said: "I’m 42 years old and I feel much happier in my skin than when I was 18, and it’s because when I was younger I was so insecure. I was in this business growing up essentially, where people every other day were saying ‘you’re fat’ you’re ugly, you’re this, you’re that.’ Every element of my being was critiqued for a photograph and, as I’ve got older, and especially having children, I’m much more at peace with myself and my body."
It comes as the model-turned-musician put pen to paper for an autobiography appropriately titled 'The Red Flame', named in honour of her glowing locks.
On her decision to tell her story - which was originally published in September 2020 - she said: "I wanted to be unfiltered because I think that there’s something very powerful about any woman sharing their story. Fashion is a really phenomenal place but it’s also a fairly tough place. Behind the scenes it’s a very difficult business, not just competitively, but it’s very hard to be seen and heard, so I wrote my book so I could simply tell my story."