Martha Hunt is best known for being a model, having walked more than 180 fashion shows for the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Versace and more. She has been a Victoria’s Secret Angel since 2015 and has walked their annual fashion show three times. You may also recognise her from The Chainsmokers’ ‘Paris’ or Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ music video.
Whilst Martha is incredibly successful in her field, her journey hasn’t been straight forward. She was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager, a medical condition in which a person’s spine has a sideways curve, which could have had a negative impact on her modeling career.
Martha has spoken about her scoliosis in the past however, a few days ago she further explored her journey to self-acceptance by writing an essay for Thrive Global. In the essay, the model discusses her story and how she turned her passion into action, with the aim of helping other young women with the condition.
At around 14, Martha’s modeling career began after winning a local competition. However, at the same time, she started to notice changes in her body and a visit to the doctor confirmed that she did indeed have scoliosis. Whilst she accepted the news, the model also feared how the condition would affect her career.
“I accepted my new twist in fate, but I was still hopeful and continued to model during school breaks. As my modeling turned into a realistic career option, I had my doubts about how successful I could be, because of my physical asymmetries. One hip was higher. One shoulder blade protruded more. My sternum was pronounced, and my waistline only curved on my right side,” Martha wrote. “Modeling put me under a microscope, it made me cognizant of everything about my body; how I looked, how I moved.”
“I learned which hip to lean on to overcompensate for my uneven waistline. And as clients started to notice something was off, I grew more insecure about my scoliosis. The signs progressed over a few short years, and I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was sensitive to a client’s gaze in my direction, wearing their clothes. I didn’t like how I looked when I walked the runway. I sensed all eyes on me, noticing my flaws. Scoliosis took a toll on how I felt about my body.”
As her curvatures progressed, Martha was advised to get a spinal fusion. After graduating, she had the survery and whilst it was successful to a degree, Martha was still affected by the condition. “I was still riddled with insecurities as a consequence of my battle with scoliosis. Although I had a successful operation, it did not completely fix the condition, nor was it meant to. It helped balance my spinal curves, but I didn’t become totally symmetrical afterwards. Many people are burdened by scoliosis during their formative years, and some of those insecurities do not go away, even after their brace comes off, or scars are stitched up.”
Soon after, Martha’s career started to flourish and whilst she once felt as if her scoliosis was a negative, she later realised that it actually gave her an edge. “There was a time when I felt I was scamming the industry, that inevitably clients would pick out my flaws. I thought my slight limp and 14-inch scar down my back deemed me imperfect. I dreaded negative feedback, but it never came,” she wrote. “In fact, scoliosis gave me an edge, because I had to keep it in check, I had to keep my core and back strong for pain management. The adversity I faced with my career and body image ultimately empowered me. That drive trumped my hesitations about what brands would think of my abnormalities.”
Throughout her journey, Martha was always determined that one day she would tell her story to the world in order to help others. After coming across the Scoliosis Research Society, she shared her experience and was later reached out to about sponsoring a trip to the Capitol to advocate for Orthopedic Research Funding.
This gave Martha the opportunity to turn her passion into action in order to raise awareness and funds, in addition to boosting the confidence of other young girls in a similar situation. Speaking about using her platform to help others, Martha said: “I finally felt like I was making a difference in peoples’ lives firsthand, and that gave me the purpose I had been searching to fulfill. In an age where we shamelessly project images of perfection, sharing truths about imperfection couldn’t be more critical. Sometimes the things that make you different make you the best.”
You can read Martha’s full essay here.
You can also find out more about scoliosis here.
Let us know your thoughts on Martha Hunt’s essay by tweeting us @CelebMix