Cara Delevingne is one of those stars who wears many faces. If you think you know her, she turns around and surprises you, and it’s probably because she’s been trying desperately to live an authentic life.
Delevingne has been a serious model and Karl Lagerfeld’s main muse. She’s been the perennial goof, wearing animal hats around town and flying in the face of what we think of as an “off-duty model.” She’s been the best friend of Kate Moss and Kendall Jenner. She’s been the actress not taken seriously. And finally, she’s now opening up about her real-life struggles, her battle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and what eventually saved her life.
She’s also got some hella good advice for young girls.
At the Women in the World Summit, Cara sat down with Rupert Everett. Sitting across from him in a swivel chair, Cara quickly removed her stiletto heels before answering a single question. “Sorry, I had to take my shoes off, ’cause I’m bloody scared,” she said.
And then she recited an original poem:
Who am I? Who am I trying to be?
Not myself, anyone but myself.
Living in a fantasy to bury the reality,
Making myself the mystery,
A strong facade disguising the misery.
Empty, but beyond the point of emptiness,
Full to brim with fake confidence,
A guard that will never be broken,
Because I broke a long time ago.
I’m hurting but don’t tell anyone.
No one needs to know.
Don’t show or you’ve failed.
Always okay, always fine, always on show.
The show must go on.
It will never stop.
The show must not go on,
But I know it will.
I give up. I give up giving up.
I am lost.
I don’t need to be saved,
I need to be found.
That last line proves that even a stylish, rich, talented young woman like Delevingne, whose career and face and friends are coveted around the world, still has inner turmoil, and a story to tell. That “fake confidence” is yet another surprising facet of this woman.
The whole interview is filled with Cara’s wisdom and honesty. Her early life, she says, was filled with the overwhelming desire to please her parents. “I didn’t really care that much about school because I knew I was never going to be very good at it. I think I pushed myself so far, I got to the point where I had a bit of a mental breakdown.”
She also opened up about her learning disabilities, something that seriously fractured her confidence and that she turned to modeling as an escape—an escape that may have made things worse. Surprising enough for one of the world’s most famous, successful, and recognizable models is how much she hated the entire thing.
“The thing with models is you get used. I saw a lot of misuse from photographers, perverse photographers, to young girls…Poor girls who don’t stand up for themselves because they feel like you should be used, because that’s what models do.”
Cara’s words are enough to make anyone wary of the dark side of the modeling world. She was its darling, the muse of Lagerfeld, best friend of Kate Moss. But modeling made her descend even deeper into depression.
She developed psoriasis as a result of stress, and said she partied too much. It was Kate Moss, Delevingne said, who “picked her up off the ground” and made her take a break.
After that break, Cara had some clarity, and began to shift her focus away from modeling and onto a lifelong dream: acting. But she was sure no one would take her seriously, a sad thought considering her nuanced and pitch-perfect portrayal of Margo Roth Spiegelman in this summer’s Paper Towns.
“When I got my first audition that I cared about, I cried my eyes out,” Delevingne said. “Because I never thought anyone would take me seriously.”
Now they’re taking her seriously.
Cara has five films slated for release this year alone. But it’s her candid discussion about depression that has turned more eyes on her than ever before.
“I got to the point where I was a bit mad. I was completely suicidal, didn’t want to live anymore. I thought that I was completely alone. I also realized how lucky I was and what a wonderful family, wonderful friends I had, but that didn’t matter. I wanted the world to swallow me up, and nothing seemed better to me than death.
Writing was something that really saved my life. It was like, I would write and I would read what I’d written, and it was like someone else is talking to me… it was like, ‘What? Is that how I feel?’ It was a very strange experience.”
Cara’s open and honest dialogue about her experiences with depression, which are ongoing, and what ultimately helped her recover resonates with so many people around the world dealing with the same issues. Having a young, ultra-famous woman speak so honestly about her struggles just makes it that much easier for others to gain the help they need. When celebrities speak, the world listens. And it does cause a ripple effect.
Delevingne also has some awesome advice for the girls who tell her they’re aspiring models. “Dream bigger,” she tells them. “Go for president.”
“I have so many messages just for young girls about how mental illness and depression is not something to be afraid of.
And also, women are great. They’re wonderful, wonderful creatures. Women are the bearers of life.”
She closed her poignant interview with more advice: “Be comfortable in your own shoes,” she said, and then looked down at her bare feet. “Which apparently I’m not. Because you’re going to be in them for a while.”