Frequently, models are defined by their looks. It’s what the world sees through the camera lens and Photoshop. At SmartGlamour, models are not airbrushed to perfection or instructed to give a non discriminate pout for the camera. We want to see every dip and wrinkle that makes our models relatable to the rest of the world. We want to see personality shine through.
This month’s model, Michelle has got personality in spades. A resilient body positive role model in her spare time, as well as a non-profit intellectual when she’s on the clock. We’re starting to wonder if there’s anything she can’t do.
Whether she’s cheering players on in the NYC roller derby or modeling for SmartGlamour, she puts her all into her work.
Our February Model of the Month is Michelle!
Aside from occasionally modeling for SmartGlamour – what do you do?
I’ve been a non-profit administrator for much of my professional career. My current role is at an academic association, so I mainly work with faculty and graduate students to support their career goals and create connections among their research presentations at our annual conference. I am grateful for the confluence of things that led me to this job, since I used to be a member as a graduate student myself! So it means a lot to me to work there. In my spare time, I am a dancer, a stitcher, a writer, a non-profit board member, and a roller derby jeerleader (my “nom de jeer” is Karma Sandiego).
How did you get involved with the brand?
Plus-size fashion has come a long way in the last decade, but in the early 2010s, it was really hard to find new brands, so I was a subscriber to Plus Model Magazine, and it was from there that I first learned about SmartGlamour way back in 2015. And then I found out that a friend was cast for a show in 2016! Shortly thereafter, I was encouraged to attend a casting, which I finally did about a year later. Although I wasn’t cast that time, I was encouraged by others (seriously, find yourselves supportive friends!) to come back and try again, and I was cast for the first time for Spring 2020 – and I’ve never looked back!
You’ve modeled for us multiple times – what makes you continue to come back?
There’s something pretty special about modeling garments that are beautiful, comfortable, tailored, and accessible to literally all people who want to wear them, which is reflected in the genuine diversity of folks that SmartGlamour uses for each shoot. This approach and ability to customize is so rarely accessible to everyone, and I will always support SmartGlamour for it. Plus, it’s fun!
What does body liberation mean to you?
Bodies are physical representations of ourselves, and society has placed so many (and such different!) rules about who we can and should be based on those bodies. But why should we limit ourselves to just what we’ve been trained to think about others or about ourselves? Body liberation means freedom, radical empathy and self-love, and the opportunity to give patience to yourself and others where there wasn’t any before. It’s certainly a process, but I think it’s important to keep reminding ourselves that we all deserve body liberation.
If there is a message you could put across to women, femmes, and non binary folks through your modeling photos – what would that be?
We all deserve to be seen for who we are. And, embrace (figuratively, unless you have consent!) people who don’t look like you! Diversity is beautiful and can only serve to strengthen us as people, as a society, and as a world.
What is your advice to people who would like to give modeling a try?
Seriously, just give it a try (and be open to giving it more than one try). Someone recently told me that I was their role model for being a public performer, because if I could do it, then they could do it too (and they did!). What an honor to be thought of in this way! If you are someone whose body doesn’t look like what you’ve seen before in a model (or in any other space), then that just means that you have the opportunity to be a trailblazer. Why shouldn’t it be you to show the world how special you are? Representation matters! I would love to be the first to cheer you on. *cue music*
A big thank you to our model of the month, Michelle for sharing with us!
Did anything she say resonate with you personally or that you’d like to hear more about? What does it mean to you to see models that look like you? Please share in the comments below to discuss.