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I was k!lling myself’ – Naomi Campbell speaks about her abuse of drugs and alcohol to cover up childhood trauma and grief

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Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell, an ex-supermodel, has spoken out about her early struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.

In the new documentary The Super Models, the fashion superstar, 53, claims she began abusing substances as a method to cope with the sadness of being abandoned by her father as a youngster, as well as the devastating death of her close friend and designer Gianni Versace.

Along with other supermodels Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington, the runway icon speaks up about her professional journey in the Apple TV+ docuseries.

Naomi admitted that at the height of her fame, she was slowly ‘killing’ herself owing to the amount of narcotics she used in the early 1990s.

‘Grief has been a very strange thing in my life because it doesn’t always [show],’ the mother-of-two explained.

”I go into a shock and freak out when it actually happens, and then later is when I break. But I kept the sadness inside, I just dealt with it.”

When legendary designer Giovanni Maria ‘Gianni’ Versace was shot dead outside his Miami Beach home in 1997, the fashion industry was shocked.

Naomi had formed a deep friendship with the Italian fashion star and was one of many who were devastated by his death.

Naomi stated why he had such a particular place in her heart: ‘[Late designer] Azzedine Alaa was my papa. I learned about selected families from him. Gianni Versace is in the same boat.

”He was very sensitive to feeling me, like, he pushed me. How would push me to step outside and go further when I didn’t think I had it within myself to do it. So, when he died, my grief became very bad.’

She continued: ‘When I started using, that was one of the things I tried to cover up, was grief. Addiction is such a… it’s just a bulls**t thing, it really is.

”You think, “Oh it’s gonna heal that wound”. It doesn’t. It can cause such huge fear and anxiety. So I got really angry.”

The British-born model famously collapsed at a 1999 photo shoot after five years of cocaine addiction. The scary moment prompted her to check into rehab in 1999.

‘When you try to cover something up, your feelings… You spoke about abandonment. I tried to cover that with something. You can’t cover it. I was killing myself. It was very hurtful.’ she said

She also referenced her previous assault convictions, the first in February 2000, which saw her plead guilty in Toronto to assaulting her personal assistant with a mobile phone in September 1998. Several other employees and associates came forward with claims of abuse in 2006.

”For my mistakes, I’ve always owned up to them. I chose to go to rehab”, Naomi stated

‘It was one of the best and only things I could have done for myself at that time. It is scary to pick up the mirror and look into the mirror. It is scary, and it’s taken me many years to work on and deal with.” she added

Naomi was born to Jamaican-born dancer Valerie Morris and has never met her father, who abandoned her mother when she was pregnant.

‘There’s a lot of issues that I have from childhood. Well, for instance, not knowing your father, not seeing your mother. That brings up a lot of … it manifests a lot of feelings.’’ she said

‘One of those feelings… absolutely is anger. But I think that’s a really normal thing. I’ve not always displayed my anger at the appropriate time. It’s always been an inappropriate time. But it’s a manifestation of a deeper issue, anger.’

‘And that, for me, I think is based on insecurity, self-esteem and loneliness, and being abandonment. That’s where my core issues were abandonment and rejection.

‘That puts me in a real vulnerable space, and everyone thinks, “Oh, Naomi’s a really tough girl and really strong”. But that’s what I want to appear to people to be like, because if I fear that I don’t, they’re gonna just walk all over me if they really knew.’ she added

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