“We all come to this world naked and alone so that the first thing we need to accept – ourselves.” Katya
It was not long ago that many skeptics thought “self-care” would be a phase or fad we would all get over but as it turns out it’s the very reason some of us are thriving even during a global pandemic. With so much uncertainty in the world, we sat down to chat with cover model Katya Zharkova about being a mom, wife, and model, all while staying positive during self-quarantine.
For those that do not know you, can you tell us a little about yourself and how your modeling career began?
I was essentially born into the business. My mom is a professional photographer and she taught me from a very young age about the camera, the business, and how important it is to be positive and to be real. My mom would photograph me all the time and when my father was no longer with the army we settled down and I got signed to a modeling agency at the age of 14.
What are the modeling and fashion industries like in Russia?
We did not have agencies that represented “plus-size” models in Russia. Now it’s changed. At one time there would never be a show about plus-size models and over the years people have become more open to size diversity and now we see things like shows that represent women of different body shapes.
We do need more stores that carry larger sizes (12+) with clothing that is fashionable and trendy.
We don’t have ASOS, LANE BRYANT, TORRID, TARGET, or KOHLS so you can understand how difficult it can be to find fashionable clothing if you are over a size 10. We still have a ways to go in the fashion industry.
Since your last cover with PMM, you had a little girl! Tell me about managing motherhood and modeling career.
It’s near impossible but I try my best. The first couple of years were very hard because I was breastfeeding her. She would follow me everywhere so I had very little time for myself. My body had changed so much as well and it takes time to feel like yourself again.
The fashion industry was requesting a daily photo update and that was kind of difficult for me since both my hands were literally busy with the kiddo. So I chose motherhood as a first job and now she is 4 years old and I’m ready to get back in the business. But… now I’m 38 years old and I’m told that I don’t particularly look mature but I’m not that young either. So is it a possibility to work as a model when you are aging?
That’s the next topic of our conversation… What are the mature models supposed to look like? Do they have to have grey hair? Are we asking models to hide their age? And how many companies are using models of all ages for fashion advertising and e-commerce?
We need for the industry to truly embrace diversity… and this means age diversity as well. The only way to promote fashion genuinely is to use models who reflect the people who are buying it. I notice that many clients are actually using the same girls for years over and over again. We need to accept differences and celebrate them.
After the pandemic, everything will change so we need to wait and see what will happen. Life will be different – but our bodies and souls will be the same.
You’ve had a very public modeling career in Russia where size acceptance is still not as readily accepted as it is in the United States. What is your message to those in positions of power who feel that fashion and beauty are size-specific?
I understand why fashion feels like they need to be strict with sizes. But the conversation about how we are all promoting beauty standards needs to change. Take a look at the real honest documentary, ‘A Perfect 14′. You will see that size is not a problem.
I believe our kids will grow and will help the next generation push the boundaries even further.
After having my daughter I realized how important self-confidence is when you are raising children, even at a young age. Do you talk to your daughter about self-confidence and could you share ways that we can speak to young children?
You need to be REAL. You need to accept who you are. The mother is often the first person who teaches the child about confidence. We need to be strong and patient. When my baby was born I was scared, very scared. But I did not have an option to stay in that place. Thankfully a lot of it comes naturally but the first couple of years when you have all that responsibility on your shoulders, it can be difficult.
My advice… We are all in the same position; allow your child to see REAL life because life is not filtered.
The global pandemic has affected all of us. What is life for you right now and how are you sheltering in place and keeping positive?
For us, this is the first time we are home and don’t have to rush anywhere. For the last 4 years, we were very busy. My husband was working 5 days a week, Monday – Friday, so the responsibility of the baby was on me. When I have to work he would have to take the day off. So now we finally feel a little rested.
We don’t have family here, so we don’t have any help, no extra hand. We just try to stay positive for our baby. She deserves happy parents.
We hike a lot. Here in the DMV area, there is a lot of trails where we can just walk. We make this a daily routine to go in the forest and breathe the fresh air.
I think that many things will change for sure after the pandemic is over. And my mission is to save humanity. The humanity that I have known for years can face challenges after the pandemic.
The longer we stay in the “internet world” we can forget about humanity. We should talk in person, not just online. So right now it’s most important to be as REAL AS POSSIBLE.
We all come to this world naked and alone so that the first thing we need to accept – ourselves. Remember your past, stay present now and expect a bright future. Only positive thinking can help us.