Photo Credit: Getty
Happiness comes in different shapes and sizes -- a lesson Katie Halchishick has learned well. At 5’9” and a size 6, the 25-year-old Hollywood-based bombshell was once deemed “plus sized” by the modeling industry. To help other models avoid her damaging body image experiences, Katie recently co-founded Natural Model Management, an LA-based modeling agency with a laser focus on encouraging health and embracing models at their “happy” size. For the full scoop, we spoke with Katie. Read on for our eye-opening Q & A:
How did you get your start in modeling?
Growing up (in Spokane, WA), everyone always said “You should be a model!” I'd say, “I’m too big.” In high school, I was a size 10. Still, I was curious, so I went to an open call one day and they said, “You’d be perfect for our plus sized division!” Initially, I was offended but after I booked my first job (for Nordstrom.com), I was like, “Give me more!” It was fun and I got paid an amazing amount of money.
After signing with a top modeling agency, Halchishick was advised to gain weight because she was “too small.” She put on 20 pounds in two months. At 200 pounds and a size 14, Halchishick became the face of Torrid but she wasn’t happy.
I'd feel bad about myself and the way I looked. I was getting my self worth from booking jobs, not from within myself.
Then you met your current boyfriend, Bradford Wilcox, also a model. How did he help your body image?
He told me I was the most stunning girl he’d ever seen -- and this was at my biggest. He had been a trainer and said he was sick of seeing so many skinny girls. I told him I wanted help getting in shape. He helped me learn how to be active and eat right. Over two years, I dropped 50 pounds, and lost almost all of my clients.
And that, in a sense, led to disordered eating, right?
It was hard to handle. I didn’t want to gain the weight back so I thought, “I’ll workout more and try to model on the straight side. I was taking three workout classes a day and using a 1200 calorie/day meal delivery system. I lost my boobs and my face became gaunt. (Check out pictures of Halchishick’s ups and downs here.) I got down to a size 6. The only thing keeping me from a size 4 was my hip bones. Still, I’d go for castings and I would be the biggest girl there.
Her turning point came when she found herself hovered over a toilet after a Fourth of July BBQ, contemplating purging.
Thankfully, I didn't do it. I spoke with Bradford and he said, “Let’s learn from this.” So, we decided to start Natural Model Management.
How is this modeling agency different?
We build models up instead of tearing them down. We’re trying to create a new division called Natural Plus -- that supermodel figure from the ninties, which has totally disappeared. We think it’s beautiful and healthy and an actual female body. We also don’t tell models what size to be. We show them respect and ask, “Where do you feel your best? What size? Let’s find you work at THAT size.”
Our models are also taking on the responsibility of not just modeling but actively participating in projects where they will be role models to thousands of girls. For example, in December, we’ll launch HealthyIstheNewSkinny.com, where our models will blog about their experiences, give their favorite recipes, high school memories. They’ll have emails so girls can contact them.
We've also developed a program to help girls change how they view themselves, called Perfectly Unperfected. We go to high school and college campuses and speak with both boys and girls about the realities of body image.
What do you think about the increase of “bigger” models in magazines?
People were appalled by the Ralph Lauren photoshop disaster. Women spend the money so if we’re not happy with how we’re being advertised to, we can voice our opinions and make a change. At the end of the day, the industry’s perception of “big” is all wrong. Most of these "bigger" models are 5’10” and a size 6. In the real world, you would consider them thin. Our mission is to change that.
Should a size 6 model really be considered "plus sized"?
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