“I started up my foundation, Lovekidz, because I was once bullied for my looks and decided to turn my life around.”
Bella, can you tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do and what is controversial or unique about you? I have been a model since the age of 14 and a motivational speaker since the age of 13. I started up my foundation, Lovekidz, because I was once bullied for my looks and decided to turn my life around. The tools that helped me do this empowered me to love myself and to help others do the same. In my career, I have worked with awesome people Stella Mccartney, Fenty Beauty and Nike and have now given two TED talks!
What motivated you to join the TED forum and publicly speak about your personal experiences? What was the main message you were trying to deliver? My message is very simple – you define yourself. It is so important that we love ourselves, because everything in life comes down to the self. If you cannot love yourself, how can anyone else? And if we stop judging ourselves, we will not only have the confidence to achieve all our goals but will also stop judging other people. Can you imagine how the world would be if no one judged themselves, or anyone? I decided to take my self-love strategies to the TED stage, because when I learned to love myself, I grew the passion to always take everything to the next level.
You have mentioned that “every fear makes you stronger”, can you expand a bit more on this? Of course! This has so many meanings, so the first thing to do is decide what it means to you. I personally believe that you can take all of your fears and turn them into something ridiculous. There was an Alton Towers experiment where people with a clown phobia were put into a room with lots of clowns, and they soon realised that they could re-associate the clowns with humour and see that they are bigger than that fear. My fear used to be that I would always get judged, and I was scared of being bullied. These fears normally grow from a previous experience. However, I allowed this fear to make me strong and confident, and turned it around to say ‘wherever you go, people will love you only as much as you love yourself.’ This gave me the opportunity to develop a great relationship with myself, accept who I am and embrace all my differences. From that moment onwards, I decided to walk into new places with the mindset that everyone in the room loved me already. Every fear can make you stronger if you make the decision to allow it to do so.
What are the most common problems that you think society is facing nowadays? As a model, I am in one of the only industries in the world where the women get paid more than the men. In the UK, there is currently a 15% gender pay gap. After doing Miss Universe, I have become particularly aware of the problems that women face in the world today. I am another person who will do everything in my power to close the gender pay gap, starting by bringing this statistic to others’ awareness. On a non-related note, I know that another problem is the fact that social media has taken over our lives. As a millennial, I feel as though I am part of a ‘disposable generation’. Due to the apps that we have, everything is only so hard to get and we are therefore able to dispose of it without much thought. For example, if a millennial doesn’t like the relationship they are in, they have the option to swipe left (metaphorically and literally). I think that it is important for my generation to be grateful for what we have and appreciate everything that happens in the moment.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your personal journey, and how has that strengthened you? My biggest challenge was when I was bullied. I was bullied for my looks, my personality and even things that didn’t exist. I hated myself and I didn’t want to look in the mirror anymore. I didn’t want to be alive. However, I decided to turn my life around and re-define the word hate. If you take the ‘e’ from the end of the word ‘hate’ and put it at the beginning, it becomes ‘e-hat’. When someone is handing you ‘hate’ they are essentially handing you an ‘e-hat’ with a label on it, but it is up to you whether to wear that hat or not. Everything changed the moment I decided to love myself and empower others to do the same. In fact, the day I gave my first workshop on self-love was the day that I got scouted to be a model!
If you could have any person as your mentor for a day, who would it be and why? Tony Robbins. I have been to twenty-three of his events now, but every time it is like an optical illusion because I always learn something new and see his material in a different way. He taught me the importance of walking the talk and inspired me to become a motivational speaker.
You have an amazing portfolio and you have worked on so many projects as a model. What do you believe is the key to success for a model? What qualities does one need to succeed? I think that it is all about confidence. When you embrace who you are, others will admire it and want to work with you. My friend Bailey had a client tell her that she was not the right look, height or size for their campaign, but they chose her because they liked her personality. You are at that casting for a reason, so have fun and know that everything will happen for you. It is also important to focus on becoming the best version of yourself, instead of comparing yourself to other girls. This is sometimes hard to remember in an industry where you are constantly in comparison to others.
Did you ever have a bad/crazy experience during your modeling career? Bad and crazy, but my favourite story is my Stella story! When I was called for the casting, I had just done an exam and was wearing sweatpants, a hoodie and sneakers. My hair was greasy and I had no make up on, but I decided to go to the casting anyway, confident in who I was that day. I had fun with the situation, even though the other models at the casting were all glammed up. The next day, I found out I got the job. That weekend I went to Paris and lead the inner circle of models in the closing show for Stella McCartney, which was all over the news for the next week!
What do you think is the hardest thing to deal with in modeling industry, what do people not know about model life? As I said earlier, we are constantly in comparison to others. We are continuously told that we are not enough; we are not thin enough, fat enough, blonde enough, tall enough, Brazilian enough – it gets crazy! The most important thing is to remember that you are perfect just as you are, and to take every experience as an opportunity to grow. As long as you know who you are, it doesn’t matter what other people say. People might know this, but a lot of people don’t realise how hard we work during things like fashion week. A model could have about 10 castings a day, and have to run around London in heels in the rain. In my second fashion week, I actually got pneumonia.
What is usually going through your mind when you are modeling in front of the camera? I see myself as a method actor, so I really become the person that I am modeling that day. For example, if the mood of the shoot is ‘sexy’, I pretend I am the sexiest woman alive. If the mood is sad, I think about things that make me sad. If they tell me to laugh, I will laugh at the fact that they told me to laugh. It is all about convincing the audience with your facial expressions and body language.
What does your skin care routine look like? Do you have any beauty secrets or products you swear by? I love this question, because my routine and secret is so simple. I have never, will never, and do not let people touch my face (with the exception of makeup artists). I do not touch my face either. It’s really simple. It stops you from breaking out and making your skin oily.
What are your thoughts about natural organic beauty products? Have you ever tried any? This might be biased, but I think that most of them are publicity stunts. We should never upset the pH of our skin, and things like coffee masks will do exactly that. As much as I love avocados, I wouldn’t put them on my face!
What would be your tips for non-models on how to look good in front of the camera? Imagine you are wearing an invisible crown. Keep that confidence up, your shoulders back and your head held high. Another good tip is to imagine that there is an invisible string that is pulling you up. If your posture is meant to be hunched, maybe don’t do this! Just remember that you are there for a reason, you are beautiful, and everyone wants the same outcome from the shoot as you – to get some great pictures. Nothing is taboo when you’re on set.
Tell us more about your foundation “Lovekidz”, what was the main reason behind its establishment, what are you trying to achieve through this project? I wanted to spread the tools that I had learned, and thought that starting a foundation would be the fastest way to do this on a mass scale. It started off just for kids, but I have now expanded it to adults, with the message to ‘be a kid forever!’
What is your favorite thing about being a motivational speaker? Knowing that with every talk I give, I have taken one step closer to being the change I want to see in the world.
What would be your advice for people to be happier, healthier and more full of love? Have you ever found yourself actively looking for happiness? You might say no, but the truth is that we have all done this. Maybe you said, ‘I’ll be so happy when I get that grade!’ or ‘I’ll be really happy when I see that person.’ These sayings are more self-degrading than we know, because they essentially mean that we are waiting for something external to happen in order to create something internal. Happiness comes from within. Emotions are like energy; they cannot be destroyed but can be converted into different forms. Instead of waiting for something to happen in order to be happy, choose to be happy now. It is as simple as that! Try this – grin up at the ceiling for 30 seconds and try to feel sad at the same time. I dare you.
In your opinion, how important is social media in changing and developing concepts of beauty? Do you feel Photoshop has created a skewed perception of the ideal body image? Is there any way to break such beauty standards created by media? I think that a significant amount of people have become aware of how much Photoshop is used these days, which is great because it means that they are less likely to compare themselves to pictures of models. I think that the best thing we can do is to spread this awareness. Yes, Photoshop has given an unrealistic perception of beauty, so it is important to remember that there is no one definition of what beauty is. It is up to us to join the ‘all bodies are beautiful’ campaign, and focus on that. There are lots of campaigns out there now that embrace models of all sizes and models with quirky features. Let’s pay attention to these, instead of the girl you see on the front cover of Playboy!
In what ways have your social media made an impact on your career and business so far? Do you think it is necessary for models to be active on social media? There was a joke I heard the other day, which said ‘If you don’t have instagram, are you really a model?’ Every client can see your Instagram these days. It is important that we use our Instagrams as another form of portfolio, only posting our best pictures, so that we have a good personal brand to sell to clients. It is also great for collaborations with brands and for selling products or experiences to the public. The only thing that I find stressful is maintaining a high following and having it grow. As a model, it is important to have a large following. In Australia, some girls would get booked instead of me because they had ten times the amount of followers. Some clients care more about your follower count than how you look. I do understand why though, as the client knows that the public likes models with high followings, and will therefore also like the brand that they work for.
What is something you’d like to do but have not done yet? Do you have any future career or personal life-related goals or plans that you would like to achieve? My long term plan is to become a clinical psychologist and to open up my own private practice. I am so passionate about human behaviour and how it can be changed in a positive way, and I always want to be doing something that will make a difference in the world.
What is something you want more of in your life? I am completely driven by growth because I believe that everything that isn’t growing is dying. With that in mind, I am looking to grow in all areas of my life! I believe in constant and never ending improvement.
Bella, what motivates you to get out of bed every morning? The fact that I have two eyes that can open. That in itself is a blessing.
What is one thing our readers would be surprised to hear about you? I have two dogs, who I have taught to sing on command!
Thank you, Bella.
Published August/September 2018 Vol II: BUY NOW