Part of being a genuine person is being able to live through your life experiences and making the best out of your situations. For Bernadett, life was not a traditional fairy tale and she endured a terrible tragedy but together with her family she was able to overcome and build a life she could be proud of. Bernadett lives what this country is all about; opportunity for those that want it and work hard for it. If you’ve met this beautiful redhead, you know she has a great sense of humor, loves her family and embraces life. This month we bring you closer to Bernadett Vajda.
Maddy: For those that only recognize you from your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Bernadett: I was born in Budapest, Hungary and lived in Israel and Brazil, and then at the age of 8, my family and I moved to a beautiful suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. When we moved here, we came with a few suitcases and a couple pieces of furniture. My parents built a beautiful life for us. I don’t think I knew we didn’t have much until I saw how my other friends lived. We shopped at garage sales and it was a treat to go to a JCPenny or Kmart. I remember how I felt when my mom took me shopping and bought me a pair of jeans. I learned early on how to make garage sale items look expensive or mix and match pieces. I suppose this is where my interest in fashion began.
Maddy: When did you begin modeling and how did it all happen for you?
Bernadett: I started modeling 6 years ago. My goal was to apply for the Peace Corp, but one evening, my family received the terrible news that my dad had been killed. All of a sudden everything in my life was turned upside down. It’s interesting to look back and think about the road that I planned to take and the incredible journey that my life has become—and it’s led me to where I am now. While my family and I were dealing with the after effects of my father’s death, I was working at a retail store in Boston helping a shopper find the perfect jacket for his client. As we were chatting, he mentioned to me I should become a Plus Size Model. I will never forget his words: “you’re not fat, you’re just big, and there’s a big industry out there. Here are some agencies and photographers you should meet and test with.” I didn’t know what testing was at the time. I was completely green.
Maddy: Where has your modeling career taken you?
Bernadett: Mostly Europe and the states. I have trips on the horizon.
Maddy: Your sister, was also a Wilhelmina model at one time. Tell me about how it felt to be going to castings with your sister. Did you ever have the opportunity to work together?
Bernadett: My sister Jude and I were living in different cities so we never went to castings at the same time. We did test together once but never had the chance to work together. When we’re not working, my sisters and I do like to ham it up for the camera though.
Maddy: When you first began your career you wore a size 16. Tell me about the changes you made to maintain your current size and how it affected your modeling career.
Bernadette: When I started, I was unhealthy. I had a horrible diet and I was depressed, again because of the circumstances surrounding my father’s death and the aftermath that came with it. Eventually, as I redefined and rebuilt my life, I was able to trim down a couple of sizes and the effects have dramatically changed me. I’m healthier, both physically and mentally. In terms of modeling, I have more energy and I move better in front of the camera. Being healthy and having balance is vital in my life.
At first, it was challenging because clients commented on my weight loss and would say I was “too small.” I thought my choices were to stop working out or eat more to maintain my size. However, when one client leaves another one enters. In the end, I decided to stay true to who I am and be the best version of myself. I have always been athletic, and stopping that when I felt so good was not in my best interest.
Becoming healthier was easy. It started with a commitment to making small changes in my diet and then incorporating those changes into my daily routine. Drinking water throughout the day and finding new vegetables and different ways to cook, making my eating experiences tasty and healthy are easy and fun ways to do this.
Maddy: We have seen the industry change a lot in recent years from awful clothing and only catalog jobs to a more stylish choice of clothing and editorials that would make anyone blush. Is this the new “norm” as far as the working models are concerned or is catalog and commercial jobs still the mainstream in the plus size modeling industry?
Bernadett: The industry is constantly evolving and models that were considered the norm in the 90s are not the “norm” today. It’s fantastic that we are now booking fashion editorials. I hope the trend continues. Fortunately for the plus industry, the jobs available are broadening. We are seeing an increase in beauty campaigns and fashion editorials in magazines.
Maddy: You are currently going to the Fashion Institute Of Technology for Image Consulting. Can you tell us about your passion to learn more about fashion and dressing women?
Bernadett: It’s become my business helping men and women realize their fullest potential. And rather than working from the outside in, I work from the inside out. When working with a new client, first we discuss the goals he or she is trying to achieve. Then, I do a full body assessment to find what styles best suit his or her body type. We then go through what I call a “closet analysis”, where the client and I will review every single item in the client’s wardrobe. Post closet breakdown, we will make a list of all necessary items to complete the wardrobe. We then shop to complete the desired look. I am using my own experiences, starting from when I moved to America and was shopping at garage sales to shopping at high end boutiques for clients. I’ve been told that when people meet you, they judge you the first 7 seconds and it takes 10 more meetings for them to change their opinion about you. But I believe with my help, my clients make great first impressions!
Maddy: What are the most common mistakes women make when choosing clothing, is it size or style?
Bernadett: There are three components to remember when choosing clothing: Accentuate, balance and camouflage (ABC). Accentuate your greatest assets. If your décolletage is your favorite feature, buy tops that accentuate that part of your body.
Find a balance with your tops and bottoms. Make sure your tops aren’t the same length as your bottoms.
If there’s a part of your body you are not keen on showing off, let’s say you’re large breasted, you can camouflage by wearing monochromatic colors and wear a structured jacket to soften the appearance.
Maddy: What advice could you offer models that are just now entering the industry?
Bernadett: Be patient. Models that are household names didn’t become overnight successes. These men and women have been in the business for years. You have to do the work. Look at magazines, take an acting class. A great class to get you started in New York City is www.actingheartnyc.com.
Test at least 3-4 times a year. Follow your interests and hobbies. The models I know are brilliant, talented, multi-faceted women. They are entrepreneurs, law school students, actors, jewelry designers, writers. Find your passion and make your dreams a reality. Design the life you envision for yourself.