Carre Otis was a rock star to many of us, having modeled for Guess, Donna Karen, Calvin Klein, and Revlon and appearing on the covers of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. The media couldn’t get enough of her turbulent love life with Mickey Rourke and her undeniable good looks. Her memoir, Beauty, Disrupted written with Hugo Schwyzer; speaks of her difficult years, naming her rapist, a shooting and survival; but there is so much more to Carre Otis. Her rebirth, self-discovery, faith, sensuality, and journey into motherhood are part of who she is and what she shares with us. I found myself rooting for her, pained for her, and in the end, learned lessons about myself. Join me in my interview with Carre Otis.
Tulin: The media has touched on your more challenging years, but I would like to focus on other aspects of your journey. I’m really inspired by your self-acceptance and how you moved on.
Carre: Ohhhh, I am more than OK with that! Thank you!
Tulin: Where did the addiction start for you?
Carre: From the beginning, like the first signs of addiction, were around food. I think you have so many of us that had disturbed eating patterns, from a young age. As a child I was dyslexic and my family wasn’t necessarily in a safe place. I didn’t have a strong relationship with my mother; there were no discussions about femininity and embracing yourself, and all the miracles and joys about becoming a woman. It was a strange disconnect and quite terrifying, because what isn’t explained to you can be quite scary. My eating habits were an attempt to control all that was out of control, that whole vicious cycle is typically about emotional issues. That was my big attempt at controlling what was out of control. To find my way into the modeling industry that looks the other way, or actually condones that behavior, because you’re expected to be a certain size, was a really bad match for me. The attempt to medicate myself was a further extension to that initial wound in life.
Tulin: It’s completely evident throughout the book how much you empowered yourself truly from within. Do you feel that having been through what you have been through that you’ll be able to empower your daughters in ways you had not been?
C: Totally! It’s such an amazing, graceful, wonderful responsibility to have given birth to two girls at this point in time. I have this obligation and responsibility to share and give them, age appropriate, as we move along this journey together, all the dialogue. There is no question that is unanswered in our household. The way that we discuss the body, the way we talk about nutrition. We don’t use the words fat or diet or anything like that in our household. They are growing up in a very aware and empowered way. That’s not to say that they are not going to realize things down the line or go through their own hardships, because we all do, but I am giving them a very different opportunity to administer their own lives.
Tulin: You have experienced a lot of success in modeling. Then after sometime, you reemerged as a plus size model.
Carre: Yes, after my heart surgery, I was in Grace Magazine.
Tulin: I remember you had gorgeous plus-size editorials and campaigns in Grace Magazine! One I remember vividly was shot in the Palm Springs Desert.
Carre: I thought it was really cool too; I was so defiant. I saw another side of the modeling industry; the discrimination. I had gained weight and I was a different size, I could not understand why I was not going to get the same day rate. On the other hand, sometimes I wasn’t big enough so they wanted me to put padding on underneath the clothes. It was just this endless barrage of “you’re not this, you’re not that.” I was so proud of that time for myself. I was not going to not work as a model because I was a different weight or size; that to me was just unacceptable. It was a moment when I really found my voice.