When I was twelve, I had a secret dream: I wanted to model.
Maybe it was my blossoming baby-feminism that made the desire to model seemed like a goal I shouldn’t share with others; the idea that as women, we’re worth more than just the way we look. But it’s probably mostly because of the way I’d be called vain or told to “get over myself” if I spent too much time on my appearance – not just my confidence, but my self-consciousness was synonymous with narcissism or vanity. If I cared too much about how I looked, something was wrong. I’m allowed to be viewed as beautiful by others, my inner monologue went. But if I put myself out there, it will seem like I think I’m beautiful, and from what I know, that’s a cardinal sin. It’s not my decision if I’m beautiful or not.
I think a lot of young girls think about modeling at one point or another – whether it’s a fleeting thought or lasting desire – simply because the ad campaigns and catalogues we’re exposed to at a young age seem, well, alluringly aspirational. We idolize the teens and adult women in our lives because they’re reflections of what’s in store for us someday, and images of models appear to embody the best of that.. Confidence. Grace. And a kind of beauty we simply cannot wait to possess ourselves: the beauty of a woman.
Welp, we’re the grown-ups now…and we’ve come to terms with the fact that models represented are mainly one body type, one skin tone, one height – one variety of beautiful. And many times, it’s a variety of beautiful that doesn’t match up with our own. That’s where things get dicey, I am not that, the self-talk goes. And I don’t know if I like the thought of that.
Katie H. Willcox is fierce in her determination to change it all.
Katie is the CEO and founder of Healthy Is The New Skinny, a body positive platform and brand that promotes an all inclusive approach to female health. But she doesn’t stop there – she’s also the woman behind Natural Models Management, a modeling agency that provides girls and women like Katie with an opportunity to have a healthy experience in the business. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also got a book out in 2016 (fist pumps) and has created a program called Re-Model Me, which teaches girls and women how to identify media manipulation, protect themselves from it, and how to fight back against it.
(So basically, she is doing ALL the things when it comes to how we relate to the media and to ourselves.)
Katie’s story is one I’ve been following since Healthy Is The New Skinny first came onto the radar: as a teenager, she was told she would be perfect for “plus-sized” modeling, which was a major shot to her self-esteem. Yet the scouts were right, and she began working in the industry. And after she gained 25lbs and fit the perfect size 14 samples, she began working even more.
But the toll it was taking was rough, and Katie was realizing how unhappy and unhealthy she felt in her skin. Breaking free from the control the industry had over the way she looked, Katie started to take better care of herself, inside and out, which left her happy, healthy, and at a size 10/12: too small for plus-sized, but too big for catalogues. She loved how she looked and loved how she felt, yet suddenly she was seen as “less valuable.”
On WANT, we’re constantly talking about “moving forward fearlessly” – the idea that there will always be roadblocks, lows, and dark moments, but it’s how you handle them that counts. Being proactive, not reactive. And so when Katie got the major blow of “not being X enough” for work, she decided to do something about it – she created her own.
After leaving her agency, Katie founded Natural Models Management. Fast forward, and she now not only reps a slew of beautiful and talented models, she works to empower them with the knowledge to keep their bodies healthy, minds strong, and hearts intact no matter what the industry might bring. Couple this with Healthy Is The New Skinny, which has caused a self-love revolution amongst young girls on and off line, and Katie is helping to create a new normal in the industry. She’s not just on the front lines, she’s one of the ones who is leading the pack.
I don’t know about you, but I often feel helpless when it comes to the media. It’s just such a huge, daunting mountain to surmount. Katie is, truly, a game changer. I love that she doesn’t skinny shame or bash a certain body type, she is all-inclusive and through her social media and Healthy Perspective blog series, simply aims to prove that ALL shapes and sizes of women are different yet beautiful. That no one is above the other, that health and happiness trump stereotypes, and that the only person who is in control of your body is YOU. As she says below, one person’s beauty is not the absence of your own. I smile and my heart fills with joy when I think of the girls who can look at the example she’s setting and see a wider view of what it looks like to be confident, glamorous…what it looks like to be a woman.
You’re way more than just the way you look – but it’s your right to feel your beauty, from the inside out, in every day and every moment. Katie is making sure that no woman feels it’s a cardinal sin to feel beautiful. And no one is allowed to dictate that feeling but us.
It’s people like Katie that make me feel wonderful being exactly as I am. From her truth bombs on body love to the female role models that rock her world, this is a WANT Woman spotlight you’ll want to bookmark. I’m so glad you get to meet her today.
Name: Katie H. Willcox
How you’d know me: Professional Model, CEO and Founder of Healthy is the New Skinny and Natural Model Management
What I love about myself (and why): What I’m growing to love about myself more is that I am relentless in believing in what I do. I used to second-guess myself, but over the years I have grown to be more assertive and sure of myself. I am capable of carrying out what I feel my purpose is and I work hard to make that a reality. I never give up.
What is your definition of “positivity?” My definition of positivity being able to see the good in any situation and not allowing negativity to seep into your daily life.
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” I began to love myself when I learned how to live a balanced lifestyle. I started focusing on being the healthiest version of myself in my mid-twenties, and I believe that was my self-love turning point. When I met my husband Bradford, he saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself and I realized that I didn’t need to fit a certain physical mold in order to be deemed lovable.
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Having worked in the fashion industry since I was 17, negative talk comes with the territory. There’s always someone there to remind you that you’re too big or too small, and there are always girls being negative with themselves. I also see a lot of negativity on social media, but I do what I can do to avoid even looking. Water off a duck’s back.
When others talk negatively about themselves… When your mind thinks negative thoughts, your body responds and continues to fester that negativity. This is why it’s so important to rid your self of negative vibes, people, etc
It baffles me that women still… Have to fight as hard as they do to be taken seriously and respected. In this day and age, we still continue to be valued for our looks versus our accomplishments.
I wish that more women… Would stop comparing themselves to one another. I firmly believe that another person’s success shouldn’t hinder you from going out and reaching your goals. In addition, another woman’s beauty is not the absence of yours. Each and every one of us is unique and it is important that we celebrate that!
The coolest thing about women is… Our ability to be so incredibly versatile. Women don’t have to conform to fit just one thing. We are capable of being and doing so many things at once.
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Educating myself and putting things into perspective and realizing that when times get hard, it really isn’t always that bad.
Also, I’ve learned to remove things that are negative to my life because they do nothing for me.
My top female role models: Sampat Pal Devi – she is the most fearless badass leader. I want to lead the way she does. She is so fearless and passionate that you can’t help but to want to be involved.
Also – Amy Schumer, because she speaks what she believes is the truth. Doesn’t care what people think or have to say about her. She is not afraid to be herself. When you believe in yourself so much, you leave no room for other people to have power over you.
Favorite negativity-busting activity: Working out with Brad. Exercise is such a great outlet and it allows me to clear my mind and purge myself of negative vibes.
Fave self-love ritual: Swimming— When I swim I am weightless and I can be by myself and block everything out.
Favorite feel-good food(s): My absolute favorite is the Santa Fe chopped salad my husband and I make. We seriously eat it 6 times a week. I have a recipe for it up on katiehwillcox.com!
Favorie movie or TV show to watch when I’m feeling down: Now and Then (I loved this when I was growing up), Girls, Sex and the City
Favorite empowering book(s): I Am Malala – I am fascinated with her. It is amazing to have a different perspective and be born in a country where girls have no rights, but still have the same spirit. It was incredibly inspiring.
My Fight/Your Fight by Rhonda Rousey – The one thing I’ve learned from this book is that I’m going to take hits, but it’s training me for something bigger. Training involves everything, the bad and the good. Your training dictates your success.
My feel-good playlist: Sam Smith station or Frank Sinatra station on Pandora.
Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: Gymnastics is not gonna be your thing, but don’t worry. You’re gonna be really good at other sports!
…14 year-old self: Trust your instincts. You are meant to do so much more. The world is a very big place, keep your mind as open as possible.
…24 year old self: Everything you’re experiencing is going to come into play later. You are learning and growing and preparing for better things that are to come. Don’t ever believe you are just here to be beautiful.
Don’t ever believe you are just here to be beautiful. -@TeamHNS Click To Tweet
My best tip on self love: Listen to your body. It works so hard to help you perform your essential duties. Give it the love it deserves!
When I truly love all of myself… I can achieve anything and nothing can get me down.When I truly love all of myself…I can achieve anything, and nothing can get me down. -@TeamHNS Click To Tweet
Right now, I am most excited about… My upcoming book release! It will be published sometime in 2016. The book is about understanding advertising and media manipulation so you can protect yourself against it and build an identity that is authentic to who you truly are mind, body, and soul.
My body is: Beautiful and strong. I give my body love because my body loves me and allows me to do the things I love.
Three words to describe me: Passionate. Determined. Strong.
Current mantra: HEALTHY IS THE NEW SKINNY
In L.A? Come join Katie and HNS at their monthly Girl Gang Hang in Hollywood for a body image meditation and workshop. What a perfect way to spend a Saturday! Purchase your tickets here.