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Interview With PLUS Cover Model Shannyn

Photographer: Krista Svalbonas

She’s funny and full of life but when it comes to representing curvy women, a serious side of her emerges. With her curvaceous shape and warm smile Shanynn is set to make great strides in the plus model industry.

[Maddy] How did you become interested in modeling?

[Shanynn] I spent many years fit modeling in the Los Angeles market (ironically as a size 7) before my body gave up. I actually collapsed one day at a Rampage fitting from dehydration and hunger. I decided I needed a big change, packed up everything and moved to New York.

I didn’t think about modeling again for many years, until one day my roommate came home from a photo shoot she was styling for Avon. She had worked with the now famous Crystal Renn that day, along with two other plus beauties. From that day forward, she urged me to reenter the industry.

[Maddy] What steps did you take on your path to becoming a plus size model?

[Shanynn] I began by reading everything I could get my hands on — the internet being by far the most valuable source of information! Seeing all of the plus beauties was a source of inspiration that helped to lift me out of my self deprecation and body loathing I had acquired from my earlier days of modeling. I began submitting photos my roommate shot of me to every posting I could find. From there, I met fabulous photographers and made a network of friends and colleagues. Message boards on many of the plus websites are incredibly important, both for castings and for networking.

[Maddy] How often do you test with photographers and how do you choose your looks for your test?

[Shanynn] As often as finances will allow! Choosing looks can be difficult if we limit ourselves. I made the mistake, early on, of believing my body was meant to be covered up. I now look through major fashion magazines, runway shows, and the like for inspiration. We can rock ANY high fashion look! Testing early on with Les Delano was a huge milestone for me… it taught me that plus models are not about pretty faces with big smiles all of the time. We can be sexy, edgy Maxim material when we want to be! Positive photographers can be hugely influential in our careers. It is important to be open and willing to test the limits of our own perceptions of ourselves…

[Maddy] What piece of advice could you offer aspiring models about pursuing modeling as a career?

[Shanynn] To be incredibly realistic, I believe it is important for aspiring models to NOT think of plus modeling as a career, rather, to look at it as a PASSION. While focusing on modeling, I also have made going back to school a huge priority in my life right now. While the industry is growing by leaps and bounds, it is still a limited market. 99.9% of plus models are not making a true living from modeling alone. Think of it as being a role model for other young women. Modeling has long been known to have a reputation of shallowness and superficiality. We, as plus models, are changing that perception.

Living a full, well-rounded life is also a vital part of this industry. It is not easy to change people’s perceptions… it takes a huge amount of confidence. While building it, FAKE it… it will become a natural part of your self over time. Self-esteem is critical in this industry. Be prepared for rejection; for every twenty castings, you will be lucky to get one job. I don’t mean to sound negative, just realistic. If we are working on developing the entire self while modeling, we are sending an even stronger message to society! We are gorgeous women, inside and out!