MODEL, NEW YORK CITY
"I know for a fact that the immediate women in your life - mothers, sisters, aunties, your friends - are the women who are directly responsible for your body image and how you view yourself."
TALKS EATING, BODY IMAGE & ROLE MODELS
I feel really fortunate to have had my friend Georgia's viewpoints on so many important things from positive body image, self-esteem to the importance of sourcing and growing your own food for Hello! Sun.
Georgia is a successful plus-size model currently residing in New York, and also comes from a design background in fashion having grown up in New Zealand. Being so heavily involved in the industry and seeing her always so level headed amongst it all really had me inspired to feature her for this project.
I have never met anyone so confident and secure with who they are and what they look like and with so much respect for different people, different women and their bodies and with such insightful viewpoints on sensitive topics that I think affect a lot of us today. This conversation is a little longer than usual but I really hope you can make it to the end.
I FIND MORNING RITUALS AND HOW ONE CHOOSES TO START THE DAY BOTH IMPORTANT AND INTERESTING. WALK US THROUGH YOUR MORNINGS?
I always like to wake up earlier rather than later because I just feel like my day starts better that way. I usually get up and have a cup of coffee or tea depending on how I’m feeling and put on some music. There's this one amazing instrumental track by Phillip Glass that’s 18 mins long and if I don’t get to listen to it when I first get up, I’ll always make sure I listen to it on the subway commute.
I’m somebody that has to have breakfast so I’ll start cooking to music and it will usually be something like a breakfast platter of eggs, avocado, arugula or kale and cottage cheese, and I share that with my housemates. I found that if I have eggs in the morning I don’t get hungry, and I eat a lot of fruit.
ARE YOU CONSCIOUS OF WHERE YOU SOURCE THE FOOD YOU EAT?
Yeah I think it’s very important and one of my goals this year has been to get another veggie garden going at my new place. My dad has one back in Auckland and it has been flourishing for five years.
I am fortunate that I was bought up in a family where food and good produce was a huge priority and passion. Looking back, we were really spoilt with fresh fish and meat - both from family farms or my dads boat. My mother is an amazing cook and everything I know about food has come from her. My mother and father are entertaining genius's and have definitely fostered in me the same desire to share what you can provide with family and good company. At first when I started living out of home, cost was a big factor and I was in a typical flatting situation - but because it was a priority we always ate well, even if it was the stock standard brown rice and vegetables.
Now I'm older and I can invest a bit more into good produce and sourcing good food. It's totally become a hobby of mine in NY and I am lucky that I live with friends here who share the same thoughts on food and it’s origins. I really enjoy going to the farmers markets when I can or if we are having a dinner party and there are fun different components to shop for. I love talking to the farmers about where it all comes from and their role in the grand scheme of things - I have one great lady from upstate who has cornish hens and organic eggs and if I wanted to get a really great chicken, I’ll always go find her.
DO YOU THINK IT’S DIFFICULT TO GROW YOUR OWN FOOD IN NEW YORK CITY WITH SUCH LIMITED SPACE?
We grew tomatoes last year and growing your own herbs is actually one of the easiest things, wherever you are. If you really wanted to do it it’s not that hard to do in New York, you would just have to set up some planter boxes on your window sill and grow them that way. The only thing to be weary of would be finding good soil here to do it.
It’s interesting for me living in New York after having grown up in a place like New Zealand, I mean it has definitely made me more aware of what is around and what you can and can’t have living in a big city. I haven’t really been eating meat because I’m never inspired to buy it here because it’s hard to know where it comes from and I’m a little skeptical of the quality. Same with some of the produce, I mean if you can grow your own food it will save you money and it’s actually a lot of fun to look after a living crop and harvest it. I remember buying a punnet of organic blueberries that didn’t taste like anything and it had me thinking - where are these even coming from? It was like they had just been pumped full of water and not left to ripen properly and the same goes with tomatoes that are white inside or egg yolks that are yellow instead of orange. And you have to think, those things aren’t normal, it’s not natural or the way nature intended.
I DEFINITELY THINK GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD OR EATING THINGS THAT ARE WILD, LIKE DIFFERENT PLANTS AND VEGETABLES SEEM TO BE ONE OF THE MAJOR WAYS TO ACHIEVING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE - FOR BOTH THE ENVIRONMENT AND OUR HEALTH. I MEAN WITH ALL THIS HYPE AROUND ORGANIC, HEALTH AND SUPERFOODS - LARGE BUSINESS CORPORATIONS ARE FINDING LOOPHOLES IN LABELLING LAWS AND ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTION SO SADLY, IT’S HARD TO KNOW WHAT WE'RE EATING ANYMORE. IN HAVING SAID THAT, ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR FOODS YOU LIKE TO AVOID?
I’ve given dairy a rest, only because I realized it’s always been a part of my life and I’ve never gone without it. I suffer from bad headaches and I’ve been trying to experiment with what could be causing them so I’ve started to keep a close watch on what goes into my body and how it reacts and makes me feel. I've been doing this elimination process and have switched to dairy alternatives like coconut milk and realized, if I don’t absolutely love the taste of something, I really don’t need it in my diet. I’ve noticed my energy in the morning could be completely different to the day before and that that could only be from the food I was eating to fuel it. You forget that food is your body’s fuel and that everything you put into your body does a different thing or has a different reaction. Since cutting it out, my headaches and everything have gotten much better so I’m really grateful for it.
I WENT THROUGH THE SAME MOTIONS WHERE DAIRY AND FOR ME PERSONALLY - MEAT, WOULD LEAVE ME FEELING A LOT HEAVIER AND LETHARGIC - IT MADE MY BODY FEEL LIKE IT WAS RUNNING ON ENERGY THAT WASN'T ENTIRELY CLEAN OR EFFICIENT FOR ME.
Yeah, that’s funny because when I’m traveling I get put in hotels a lot and I usually arrive really late and find theres nothing to eat and then I’ll get to set the next morning and all they’ll have is bagels and candy which I know aren’t going to make me feel good. I feel like it’s really hard when you travel a lot or your routine is always changing to prepare good foods for your body. And then it’s harder when you’re then required to perform but your body isn’t given what it needs to be able to do so.
I'm really a no-fuss person and luckily have no dietary requirements so would never ask anyone to go out of their way to get me something special. Usually it’s fine and if there are eggs and fruit on set I am sorted, but sometimes it can be hard to get through a whole day of modeling and be on my feet the whole time if there isn't much option to support you and for “optimum energy”. I learnt the hard way to come prepared because it’s important to give my body the right type of foods and liquids it really needs for me to be functioning at my best - like I know that if I eat dairy before I work, I tend to feel sluggish halfway through the day. I'll take boiled eggs, a banana and some nuts with me so that I can at least help myself if I feel stuck with options. I remember when I was starting out, I used to do this thing on set where I would be quickly losing energy so would find myself snacking or having more coffee only to then jump back on set not feeling right. So in that experience, I learnt about intuition, eating in moderation and listening to what my body needs rather than what it thinks it wants.
AS A MODEL WORKING AND LIVING IN NEW YORK, DO YOU FIND YOURSELF FEELING A HEIGHTENED SENSE OF PRESSURE TO BE A CERTAIN SIZE OR WEIGHT? OR FACING ISSUES WITH BODY IMAGE WITH THE TYPE OF WORK YOU DO?
I mean as a model who is booked as a bigger girl, there is this pressure to be a certain weight because they don’t want a sample size 0 or 2 and even though the pressure to be thin isn’t quite there, it’s still my job to be on top of my physical appearance and so I still have to put myself in check to make sure I remain a certain size to fit into the clothes I’m required too. I’m a pretty confident person and my relationship with who I am and my body is generally a pretty good and stable one but I think in this industry and the work that follows, you have to keep reminding yourself that the whole concept and follow through of modeling is superficial, and you are being used ultimately as a tool to sell things. Modeling in some ways has helped me justify my own opinion on myself and my opinions of other people and if you’re not head strong, it can definitely be an evil influence on your life and mental health.
I grew up in a household that never addressed or commented on body image or what we looked like in a negative way. I never heard my mother talk about her body or anyone else’s body in a way that made me unsure about myself or how I looked. We were active kids and we ate really well and we were just big kids. I mean I’m a big girl but I never thought I should be anything else because I always came from a family of big people who never commented on it. People put so much emphasis on the media and how much the media comments on body image and how much responsibility the media has on the way we view health and beauty today but I know for a fact that the immediate women in your life - mothers, sisters, aunties, your friends - are the women who are directly responsible for your body image and how you view yourself. Your immediate environment and role models are 100% responsible for your perception and understanding of what is a healthy and beautiful body.
I don’t think I was really conscious of what bad body image was till I got to high school and I was like, why are you all saying that stuff about yourselves? I grew up in a family where my siblings, family friends and everyone collectively shared the same vibe where no one ever put each other down and I know I’ve encountered mothers who still to this day will comment on their daughters body and image. Even though as a mother would, they would still accept their daughters as the most beautiful creatures, I couldn’t help wanting to say, yes your child may have come from you but now they’re completely separate to who you are and those little comments can really do a lot of harm. I always struggled when I came across someone who’s mother or sister weren’t entirely positive about their appearance. In some ways I feel like if I was in that position, I would find it really difficult to be in a healthy position to make a realistic perception of myself and what I looked like. I mean these people are your family, your roots, where you came from. If they look at you that way, then how are you meant to face the world any differently?
These days when conversations come up about the people you see in magazines, all the talk that surrounds it is meaningless because those images are always going to be there, we’re all going to constantly be around them and everyones going to see them, so what’s important is the message you were given as a child about who you are and what you look like. I have always looked at magazines and the models and gone, ok cool that’s fine whatever but that’s not me, and flipped the page because I never felt like I had to look that way because no one ever told me I had too. And that’s not to say that I never had body issues and I think it’s safe to say that there is no one really out there that never had to address those thoughts and questions. There’s a whole combination of things that could impact your relationship with yourself and your body and if anything your body will always reflect everything you are and what you are going through. Be at peace with that because we all have to remember, our bodies are living organisms and it’s going to always be constantly changing and doing some crazy things. And of course yeah you can control some of it but you also need to understand it and let it do it’s thing to take care of itself.
WHAT MAKES SOMEONE BEAUTIFUL TO YOU? OR WHAT DOES BEAUTY MEAN?
I think it’s over the past few years I’ve realized that all the people I have surrounded myself with all have this amazing energy about the way they deal with life. I think that especially when you’re talking about beauty, you know as soon as you meet someone whether they are sincere or whether they have a good heart and I think when you meet someone that radiates good energy, there’s nothing more or better than that. You don’t have to be loud, social or laugh at everything, it just has to do with your presence.
Living in New York has made me realize that it can be quite hard to meet sincere people and especially being a woman and living in a city like New York, it can get really crazy and tough on your self esteem and the relationship you have with yourself if you’re not okay with who you are on every level and what you have to offer. I think when you recognize that someone else has a good relationship with themselves and they’re happy to share it with you, then it’s easier for you to feel the same. I mean these days you can see peoples characteristics and observe their style of living or their attachments to material things or relationships. I mean finding beauty these days, it’s just become a primitive feeling.