And we’re back with our monthly Model of the Month series! This week we are featuring Kody – who has modeled for us for Fall 2015 + our recent Jewelry + Bag outdoor shoot.
1. Aside from occasionally modeling for SmartGlamour – what do you do?
I’m actually a novelist. I’ve written five books (the sixth coming out in June) for kids and teens. My first one, The DUFF, I wrote when I was seventeen, and it was through writing it that I was able to explore my own thoughts on feminism and body-acceptance. It was adapted to film in 2015 and the book hit the NYT Bestseller list. I also teach writing workshops in NYC with Gotham Writers, and I co-founded Disability in Kidlit, which is a website devoted to the representation of disabled characters in children’s and young adult literature. I also really love fashion and makeup, so when I’m not working, I’m usually searching for another amazing vampy lipstick. It’s an addiction.
2. How did you get involved with the brand?
I saw a photo of Tess Holliday wearing this awesome pink bomber jacket that said “Feminist” on the back. So I had to find out where it came from. After finding out about SmartGlamour, I learned there was a PopUp store in NYC at the time, so a friend and I went down to check it out. That’s where I met Mallorie! We got to talking about SmartGlamour’s models and how diverse and inclusive they were. I (somewhat jokingly) told Mallorie that if she ever needed a “Short blind girl” to model for her, I was around. To my surprise (and pleasure) she emailed me for the Fall line, and not long after, i was able to walk the runway in one of her amazing outfits with my guide dog at my side.
3. You’ve modeled for us multiple times – what makes you continue to come back?
Obvious Answer: The clothes are fantastic.
More Emotional Answer: I love what SmartGlamour stands for. Not only are the clothes lovely – and very much my aesthetic – but the brand is all about acceptance and empowerment. This idea that you can be any size or height, any race, orientation, ability, etc, and be beautiful whether yo have on no makeup or a full-face of it. I fully and truly believe in that. And I love that there is a clothing line out there that believes that, too. Not only in theory, but in practice. I love that when I model with SmartGlamour, I meet women from so many backgrounds and experiences. I love that I, as a queer, disabled woman, feel welcomed and encouraged. Both as a model and as a buyer, that means a lot to me. And it’s something I want to support as much as I can.
Also, again, the clothes are fantastic.
4. What does body positivity mean to you?
For me it’s about empathy and realizing that people are people, no matter what size or shape or skin color or ability. I think that sometimes gets lost in modern culture. People look at someone and think they know everything about them – their health status, their ability, etc, and they have an opinion about it without stopping to remember that, within that skin there is a person who is just as real and complex as they are.
I used to feel very negative about my body. Partly because of fat shaming and partly because my much thinner friends felt awful about THEIR bodies, and I remember thinking, “IF they don’t feel pretty, how can I?” On top of that, bodies are complicated things in the disabled world. In my case, I am always attached either to a cane or a dog, and my eyes might not look the way people expect eyes to look (they shake, they don’t always focus correctly). I had a lot of insecurity. There were times when it affected my mental health – I already have an anxiety disorder, and body-issues became a big trigger for me.
It wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve learned to pull myself out of that and to realize that, no matter what anyone thinks of my body, I am just as much of a person as they are. And I have just as much right to exist, to express myself, and to feel beautiful. It’s been a long road, and sometimes I still struggle, but that’s one reason I try to talk about it so much, too. Because I think sometimes we all need to be reminded either to a.) be empathetic or b.) to remember that nothing about our bodies changes how human we are. And whether you’re a size to or 22, whether you’re blind or in a wheelchair, etc – you can feel beautiful.
5. If there is a message you could put across to other women through your modeling photos – what would that be?
Probably that ability has no impact on beauty. I’d never even considered that I would be allowed to model. Not because of my size or height – I knew there were petite plus models out there – but because I am disabled. My cane and/or my dog are essential. So to be given this opportunity means the world to me, and I hope it will help other disabled women see that their bodies (and their mobility aids, if that’s the case) are just as awesome as anyone else’s.
6. What is your advice to other women who would like to give modeling a try?
Just do it! I live my life by a “It won’t hurt to try” mentality. If I have nothing to lose, then why not? If you give modeling a try and it doesn’t work out or you don’t like it as much as you thought, oh well. But maybe you’ll end up loving it and meeting some amazing people and feeling really great about yourself! It is always worth it to try. I am so grateful that I was able to model for SmartGlamour. It’s an experience I certainly never thought I’d have, but I gave it a shot, and I am eternally glad that I did!