Like many girls, I struggled with a lot of insecurities growing up. I was my toughest critic—over literally every minuscule movement, thought, conservation, and failure. I started photographing when I was a preteen, and it gave me a purpose. Every time I saw something beautiful about another person, I realized I was capable of seeing the same in myself. People need to be reminded that they are beautiful all the time. We think of selfies, makeup, fashion, and compliments as these skin-deep things, as if they don’t matter. But they do—because we forget, all the time, every day, that we are beautiful.
That’s why I enjoy photographing other young women like myself. We all share a common struggle for self-love, regardless of how intelligent, fashionable, skilled, or accomplished we are. I saw the way Amy Deanna spoke about herself and inspired other young women online with her platform as a model, and I wanted give these powerful messages a story—something that would contribute a positive perspective to the fashion industry and social media.
Makeup provided by Elizabeth Luz.
“People see a tall thin girl with Vitiligo on television or in an ad and assume the tall thin girl in the supermarket is the same girl from the magazine. It's happened to a friend of mine as well. Don't get me wrong, being mistaken for Winnie Harlow has had its perks as well. She's absolutely inspirational. But I am not Winnie.”
What is your personal style?
My personal style is constantly changing. It really just depends on the season, or on my mood. I feel like you can never go wrong with a chunky heel. My signature look is jeans, a bodysuit and a chunky heel. If I'm feeling sexy, I will pair a knee-high boot with a miniskirt or a full bodysuit. I love heels! But I also enjoy being comfy: sneakers with either fit works just as well.
My daily beauty routine is pretty basic. I try not to put a ton of chemicals onto my face because I have such sensitive skin. I notice that my skin is clearest when I maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. I wash my face in the morning and again before bed. I use an exfoliating sponge paired with my Olay brightening cream cleanser, then follow up with rosewater and my Ponds moisturizer—but any brand of rosewater and moisturizer is fine.
What advice would you give to people struggle with self-love?
I think that it is so important to know yourself. My self-esteem skyrocketed once I decided that I was happy with the way that I look—from my spots to my cellulite to my stretch marks. Whatever it was that I wasn't happy with, I had to remind myself that things don't determine if I am beautiful; I do. We as women are quick to give that power to others. We ask our friends, "Do I look fat in this dress?" when we should ask ourselves, "How do I feel wearing this dress?" If that dress makes you feel sexy, you should wear the dress!
What is your favorite aspect of modeling?
Being able to travel and meet different people from all over is by far the most exciting part about modeling. Modeling is a fun job, but it is just as hard as any other profession, if not harder. Not everyone is going to match your level of professionalism, and vice versa, so it’s always refreshing when you get to work with likeminded creatives.
What are your future ambitions?
I'd like to be able to continue to inspire and to use my platform to bring about awareness concerning vitiligo. 1% of the world’s population has vitiligo, and while that may not sound like much, that’s about 72 million people. No cure—don't care—but there should be more resources provided for people that are going through this. Children and adults are being mistreated and shunned due to lack of knowledge about this disorder.
What is your number one fashion tip?
Be bold! Wear the fun, loud colors. Don't continue to play it safe or low-key. Be comfortable—be you. Take risks and stand out. Layers are fun; be expressive. There’s no right or wrong way, but there is your way.
Ting Ting Chen