Words: Helen Woltering – Edited by: Emma Lindgreen
Images: Ed Little Photography
The relationship we have with our bodies can be one of the most intimate or distant connections we experience. It can be a vessel for pleasure or pain. World renowned curvy model Aglaë Dreyer reveals the story about her journey from being a size zero model to being a curvy model.
It’s not necessarily the looks or size, but her energy, that makes a woman beautiful
The golden sun over Portobello Road Market was touching her rosy cheeks when she took off her ray bans to look for me. ‘Let’s get a lemonade and a falafel, this is one of my favourite places in town, you have to try it.’ Her positive energy immediately swapped over to me and I felt like I have met her before.
“When I arrived in Ghana, the women called me the little skinny one”, Aglaë Dreyer says while putting the hazelnut brown corkscrew curls behind her ears. “Believe it or not but it’s actually undesirable to be skinny there”.
TRAVEL TO RECONNECT
When Aglaë Dreyer (27) was 18 years old, she decided to give up her model career after finishing high school to spend almost a year in Ghana and Costa Rica. The trip was first and foremost just about taking some time off; to study Spanish and to teach young children. But the change of scenery made Aglaë put the ideals of how to look into a new perspective. “I spent a lot of time learning how to cook local dishes, less time on how I looked, and eventually gained 15 kg during the ten months I was away. At the same time, I felt reconnected with myself again.”
Aglaë went back to Europe to start her university studies, but coming back to a society where skinniness constantly is encouraged made her long back to Costa Rica. “At the time I couldn’t get my old jeans over my thighs and I started to hate myself and my body. It was like there were skinny girls everywhere I looked.”
SOMETHING HAD TO CHANGE
A few years after Aglaë was back from Costa Rica her previous model agency contacted her to say that there was a new market for so called “plus size” models. At that point, Aglaë’s self-esteem had almost reached rock bottom. “It was like I didn’t recognize myself anymore and their call made me think that I needed to loose weight again, and change, but they actually told me I looked fantastic and that my size would be anything but a problem.” Aglaë was now back in the model business with her beautiful size 42/44 and started to notice more and more curvy models taking place in the industry.
Once the focus is off the way we look, we can focus on so much more than appearance.
Did the label ‘plus size’ make you feel liberated or restricted?
A: To be put in the spotlight and told that you’re beautiful with size 42/44 is a really good thing and extremely empowering. Growing up, we were always told that being big and curvy isn’t necessarily something desirable and because of that, I was very self-conscious in the beginning of my “second” model career. By the age of 23 though I felt great, seeing other gorgeous curvy models feeling good in their skin and to see their bodies being celebrated was truly liberating. And honestly, I could finally embrace life again and started to enjoy eating good food.
What did this mean for the quality of your life?
A: My life basically started to flow again and everything fell into place. I think that once the focus is off the way we look, we can focus on so much more than appearance. I used to count calories in everything, which meant I was never fully present when, for example, having dinner with friends. But I think that when you are actually relaxed and happy, there is more positive energy revolving around you and people are more attracted to that energy rather than the way you look. For me, the transition from being a skinny to being a curvy model meant more projects, more success in my work and after all more harmony in my personal life.
What is your advice to other women who struggle with their body image?
A: When you feel insecure about your body it is important to acknowledge that feeling and to realize that it’s ok to feel insecure. I think everyone in this world feels insecure sometimes. But remember that it’s just a feeling and it can and will go away. Take control of your thoughts and do something else to take the thoughts away; go for a run or a walk, take a shower, put some lotion on your body. Think more about your well-being rather than the details of how you look.
Before castings or shows, I tend to get a bit nervous – thinking about how my face might look tired or that my hair is dry, but when I arrive at the casting and I find that no one else is noticing this, I realize how much of our negative thoughts are just in our head.
What is a beautiful woman to you?
A: Beauty is definitely a feeling. A beautiful woman is a confident woman; she is nice, smart and humble. Sometimes I see gorgeous looking women but who have a negative energy or aura and my notion of their beauty changes in a second. And then you see a woman who perhaps isn’t breathtaking at a first glance but who has this positive energy which makes her the most beautiful person. All in all, it’s not about physical beauty but about harmony and energy.
Putting all women in one body shape seems wrong to me and it’s really not that creative.
Who are you role models?
A: My mum of course, she is a really strong woman. But also my friends, I admire our differences and how strong they are. Of course there are beautiful celebrities; Naomi Campbell, Candice Swanepoel and Romy Schneider to name a few, but it’s the people around me like my family, friends and model colleagues who help me to love myself and who make me feel beautiful.
If you could change the society’s image of the female body and how it is represented in the media, what would you change?
A: Agencies should use different body types to a much bigger extent, from size 0 to size 18 – because putting all women in one body shape seems wrong to me and it’s really not that creative. Even from a stylist’s point of view I take it would be more of an exciting challenge to style different shapes and body forms. There should be space for everyone; having clothes flow on different body types is beautiful.
From: London, United Kingdom
Presented by: Wilhelmina Models
More: Sincerely Yours visited the London based model at her apartment in Notting Hill to shoot a home story and get a look behind the scenes of the 27 year old. The editorial can be found in the Allure section.