It’s no surprise that the fashion industry has been a driving force in the unreal expectations that we as women, have on body image. However over the past few years, I have come to notice a slow, but inspiring change. Real women with curves, hip and sass have been spotted on our city’s billboards, magazines, advertisements and even on our runways! This not only represents a huge change in the modeling industry but will hopefully also alter the distorted standards of beauty and body image that many young women have today.
Eco18 had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Hislop, a 26yo plus size model living in the UK. Kate is passionate about celebrating fashion diversity and promoting positive body image. With her positive attitude and healthy outlook on life, Kate is helping to redefine the standards of the fashion industry, as well as encouraging young women of all sizes, to love their body!
1. How did you get into plus size modeling?
A friend of mine was a fashion intern for Cosmopolitan Magazine and suggested me for an article on ‘Dressing For Your Body Shape’! Modeling was never something I had considered I would be able to do at size 16, but Cosmo were running a competition with Plus Size brand, City Chic at the time, who were hunting for a new face and they suggested I enter. Through the competition I met Agency Director of BGM Models, Darrianne Donnelly who offered me a contract with BGM.
2. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Living in London and working through Europe has been incredible. One big highlight was working with plus size clothing brand, Marina Rinaldi for two weeks in Italy. I have loved their campaigns and clothes for such a long time and being able to work with the team in Italy was amazing – and the food was so good too!
3. I can imagine! There’s been a lot of discussion in the media in recent years about plus size fashion models. What do you think about the term ‘plus size’? Do you think it reflects a positive or negative image?
I think the real problem comes in the labeling itself. Plus or skinny, short or tall, skin color, hair color; whatever it might be. We are so quick to put people in boxes that somehow seem to determine their worth, and then make a judgment on that.
4. Well said! The fashion world is already seeing a change with H&M and Vogue Magazine featuring plus size models in their advertorials. Where would you like to see the fashion/modeling world in 5 years time?
It’s been so exciting to see the huge changes the industry has gone through the past 4 years that I’ve been working and I think it will just continue. I would love to see more of the barriers breaking down in what shapes and sizes are used in campaigns, whether that is for beauty or fashion. It would be great to not see models pigeonholed into just their own categories, but a diverse range across the industry.
5. We would love to see that too! If you had the power to make one change in the fashion/modeling industry. What would it be and why?
I think it would be more diversity. And I don’t just mean size, I mean in all respects. The worst thing about the industry is how woman compare themselves to the narrow representations of beauty that they see depicted, and think that that alone is what beauty is.
6. Many models feel the pressure to fit a ‘sample’ size for their work. As a plus size model, do you feel pressure to look a certain way physically?
Plus size models still need to maintain a healthy body just as much as a straight size model. It’s really important for me to take care of my body and make sure I eat a healthy well balanced diet. Mostly it’s about being true to my own body shape and size though, and not trying to be someone else. I will never be a size 6, I’m not built that way, and no amount of dieting will get me to that shape, I just have to be the healthiest version of me.
7. How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
I have always enjoyed being active and grew up loving team sports and swimming. Since moving to London I have started running, something I had never done regularly before. As I travel a lot, running is the one thing you can do anywhere, no gym or pool required. I started with tiny bursts of interval running and walking and on my second day decided with my housemates to run a half marathon! That was great motivation to keep fit, and after only 4 months of running we made it to the finish line!
8. Wow, that’s great, congratulations! I understand that you’re passionate about promoting positive body image. What do you do to enforce this?
One of the great opportunities that comes with my job is talking to other women about body image and opening that dialogue. So often women talk negatively about their own bodies and other people’s bodies, particularly celebrities or others in the spotlight, and the effects of that can be extremely damaging. We need to be each other’s greatest support and ally, but that’s often not the case. I’d love to hear women talking about the things they love about their bodies as opposed to always talking about what they see as the negatives.
9. We agree! Have you got any healthy eating/fitness tips that you would like to share with our readers?
I really love food and cooking and am probably happiest in the kitchen! So I try and stay away from processed food. In fast paced London, the ready meal is a super convenient draw card, but something you cooked yourself is so much healthier! I also think fad diets are something to avoid; a quick fix is tempting but any diet that cuts out whole food groups and isn’t sustainable in the long term is not going to be as effective as making healthy lifestyle changes. I’m really lucky to live with an amazing dietician as well who really promotes health at every size.
10. It’s been so lovely speaking with you Kate, one more question for you! Have you got any advice for young women wanting to get into the modeling industry?
I think it’s important to have realistic expectations of the industry. The travel and lifestyle can seem extremely glamorous, but it’s often not the case. It’s a business where you need to do your research, work hard and be able to deal with rejection and critique positively.