Body Image, beauty, Industry, Health. —
All topics of passion, that drive me to keep going. Uplifting the mindset to change a landscape that reflects our beautiful society.
Growing up, I’ve been very active in dance, gymnastics and cheerleading where your body is the instrument. Maintaining a healthy physical appearance has always been part of the job. However, DEFINING healthy is a gray area for women and men when it comes to the fashion and entertainment industries. Being a woman, amongst many who have been/are influenced by the pressures of society, I’m passionate about telling my story to help others who are also writing theirs.
As a woman, the overriding message is the thinner your figure the more attractive, deserving, beautiful. There’s a reason why a woman has hips and curves. Going back to a very primitive reason, to provide and take care of a child. This very concept is magical in itself. And to take away the make up of a woman’s body is demoralizing to her spirit, mentality and one of the primary reasons a woman was built to be the way she is.
The woman figure is beautiful in all forms, and to portray unhealthy images of thinness as a “standard” only spreads the message to women of all ages you’re not enough if your not this way. Body inclusivity in fashion and entertainment is so crucial to the evolution of women’s mental health. Advocating for body diversity is a passion of mine to raise awareness and positive mindsets in women of all backgrounds.
Throughout my commercial success as a model and actress, I began to question what I was promoting. And many people would ask, how I do it if I’m not the “ideal” model type. That’s when it became apparent, I had to speak on appearance and its message.
What experiences have you faced dealing with body image pressures?
As a new model, I faced body image pressure from an agency recommened photographer during my first comp card shoot. I was ridiculed 1. for my wardrobe selection even after prior approval by him. 2. was told I would never make it in the industry unless I lost 20 lbs. 3. the print portfolio I bought was not professional. This was my first experience working with a “professional photographer” in Chicago. After this demoralizing treatment, I had to then get into wardrobe and shoot my comp pictures with every and all insecurity possible in my head. After this experience, I really thought about well, I want to do this how am I going to loose weight. And I did begin on a healthy routine of diet and exercise. But it doesn’t always end happy for some models, which is why it’s so important to recognize pressure before it spirals into a negative lifestyle. However, my passion and joy of being in front of the camera pushed through the fear of rejection.
What advice would you give to a teen looking to be a model?
Be confident in who you are. And be authentic in everything you do. Don’t try an be someone else because you think that you have to be different for the industry to be accepting. As a 5’5 model, I’ve been told that many times from my mentors. You’re hired because your unique. Work that.
How often do you struggle with body image as a model?
I don’t struggle with it in my daily life because I’ve learned to check in with my body and ask how do I feel? What do I need? Which has established a very positive and caring relationship with my body and self image. But being Kristen “on set” is a whole different ball game because your image is constantly being analyzed. That’s where healthy self care rituals really plays a role in a positive mindset.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is a feeling. How do I feel? If I feel good, if I feel healthy then I know I look good. Body confidence is beauty, a positive mind set is beauty, being kind is beauty.
What changed your body image perspective?
Honestly, relationships. I realized the men I dated were big advocates of a woman that was healthy with their natural curves. This really opened my eyes up to try and understand where the pressure to be so thin came from. Is it woman to woman contest or media influence?> open for discussion.
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