I often get messages from young girls aspiring to be models, or trying to gain momentum in the industry, asking me for advice. It's hard to respond to everyone. I don't have a lot of time, and to avoid abusive content, I don't read DMs from people I don't know. But I still want to help! So instead I decided to do a little advice series, giving my insight on the industry. It won't be exhaustive by any means. There are many things I haven't done (for example, I have never participated in the show circuit for fashion week), but I'll try to give a few tips in regards to what I actually know about. Other models should feel free to jump in on the comments and add to each subject. And so... PART ONE: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP
First things first - do you know what you are getting into? Working as a model is not as glamorous as it seems, and it is an incredible mind fuck. The chances that you will actually make it into the pages of Vogue or become a Victoria's Secret Angel are very rare. Maybe one in a million. Maybe even less. Very very few girls strike it big immediately, or ever. It is much more likely that you will do catalog or e-commerce work, some editorials, and with luck, an advertising campaign or two. Not Gucci. Not Chanel. Think: Target. Jockey. And even that would be lucky. Regardless of where your career takes you, trust that it will result in very long working days. You will have 4am call times. You will work for 11, 12, 13 hours straight. You will shoot in freezing weather wearing summer clothes. If you are lucky, you will travel a lot. Nearly all your travel will be alone. You will be alone and you will be lonely. Your body will be under unrelenting scrutiny. You will face endless amounts of rejection. ENDLESS. Your friends will book jobs that you desperately wanted, and you will have to watch from the sidelines. You will be ignored. You will struggle with jealousy. And when you do achieve those successes, you will struggle with the jealousy pointed in your direction. People will be mean to you. Trolls on the internet will be unforgiving with their hatred. People you thought were friends will turn on you. Jealousy does crazy things to people!
So heartbroken to learn that @renhangrenhang, one of my most most favorite photographers has passed away. A great, immense, deep talent gone far too soon. So sad #RIP#RenHang
THIS IS REALITY - This first image is a photo of my butt used for advertising lingerie. I want to show the difference things like professional lighting some retouching can make. The second image (swipe!) is an unretouched self-portrait I took on film, which adds a filter in itself. So imagine what that would look like if it was shot on digital. My point is this - I have cellulite, bumps, lumps and bruises. I have back fat and weird tan lines. ALL MODELS DO. I'm not dropping any knowledge bombs here, I know there are many body positive role models out there who have been posting this same message for years. But just wanted to present a little reminder for everyone. What you see on television and in magazines is not real! Don't be fooled. Try to look for beauty and strength from within. You'll never live up to the beauty standards set by advertising. Even models can't! BECAUSE IT'S NOT REAL! #truth
Hard to find a caption for this one. After a week-long news hiatus, what a day to check back in to the real world. Kids of all genders, races, and sexualities need more protections, not less. If you are out there and questioning your identity, and feeling even further alienated because of the rescinding of your protections over bathroom choice, please know that there are people in the world that care about you. If you need someone to talk to, there are support organizations you can turn to! Trans lifeline is one - their US # is: (877) 565-8860. My dear friend @iolovesyou is my favorite trans advocate and human rights activist. He is also worth a follow for a bit of reassurance and a safe port in a storm. #ProtectTransKids
Thank you @taylorstepien for lending your voice to @ourstoriesourselves. My best friend of 23 years dropping some knowledge on what it's like to work in the male dominated field of science. I am so proud of her for making her own path. We need more women in science and tech!
What do YOU think is the greatest challenge women face today? Join the conversation at @ourstoriesourselves by tagging us in your post, or emailing your video to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you!
Do you guys know about @wearehappyperiod? It is an AWESOME organization that provides period "kits" to homeless women, containing all the supplies they need to get through a cycle. They are hosting a drop-off event in NYC tomorrow. If you have time during your lunch break, swing by and donate some supplies (they did not ask me to post this, I just really think what they do is amazing) #happyperiod#dogoodfeelgood
I wrote an essay for Sports Illustrated on reconciling my feminism with being a swimsuit model. It was completed before the election, but feels even more relevant to me now. In the current climate we need to fight to continue to do what we love and be who we love, and not be shamed into backing down. The link to the essay is in my bio. Here is an excerpt: --
"It’s hard to hear someone say that I am being objectified by participating in things like the Swimsuit issue. It feels insulting, implying that I am somehow being taken advantage of, that I am not empowered in my own decisions. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I embrace my body and celebrate it, and for me that is what this issue represents. When I strip down and roll around in the sand, I’m not doing it for men, I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it because I worked for a decade to get here, went through countless trials and tribulations over my body image, and now I am proud to represent women my size. I am proud to show that you can be strong, smart, and sexy. I am proud to defy outdated and incorrect expectations of what feminists look and act like. I can be serious about women’s rights and flaunt my curves in a swimsuit (or out of one) at the same time. I hope that by doing so, I can help other women that look like me (and even those that don’t) begin to appreciate and love their bodies more. And I want women to know that feminism, as defined by the dictionary, means “the belief that men and women should have equal opportunities”. That’s it. It does not dictate the type of person you are, what you are allowed to do or say or wear, or what magazine you decide to show your ass in." #siswimsuit2017#feministasfuck#notbackingdown
Life is surreal and cool sometimes. If I could tell you the hours and days and weeks I have spent worrying about the future of my career. Would my body ever work in the fashion industry? Would people get me, appreciate what I have to say? If my "big break" would come? And if it did, would I have the sense to realize it and appreciate it? Well... I appreciate it. I waited and worked for a decade for this, and I really really want to tell everyone out there but ESPECIALLY girls who feel marginalized and ESPECIALLY girls who do not have "traditional" model bodies but are still trying to grind in the fashion industry (and in life): DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS! Hustle your fucking ass off. Work for the future you want. Think creatively about how to get there. You can achieve it! I did, and if I could do it so can you. Might sound cheesy, but it's true. 🏼 #siswimsuit2017