As women, there is no denying that we are constantly under the scrutiny of others. Whether it’s what we are wearing or if we are not wearing makeup, we are put into boxes to be a certain way that we cannot live up to because these “ideals” are not realistic. Despite this, we are always reminded of the push to be “perfect” through social media, television, magazines, and more. What we need more of is kindness, truth, and most importantly, support—not only with ourselves, but others, too. Enter Katie Willcox, a true inspiration for women and girls growing up in a world that can create so much pressure on how one should look, act, and feel. She is a force that glows from within and shares her unwavering strength with others, in turn creating a positive movement of acceptance, healthy body image, and being and loving yourself confidently.
From the publishing of her book, Healthy Is The New Skinny: Your Guide To Self-Love In A Picture Perfect World and the social movement it represents, to creating her own modeling agency, Natural Model Management, which promotes health and attainable goals for the modern-day woman, Willcox is one of the most influential, graceful, and honest women we have ever seen. Plus, she is such a kickass person who makes you feel welcomed and accepted from the get-go. Need it get better? We had the honor of speaking with the wonder woman herself about her ever-growing career, sweet family, and will to promote the right type of change in an industry that can feel so limited.
Cliché: What sparked your fire in making the first step to breaking the glass ceiling of the modeling industry? How do you continue to strive for more in an industry that can feel so limited and exclusive?
Katie Willcox: For me, the moment that changed everything was when I was sitting on my kitchen floor and crying because I licked frosting off of a baking sheet. It was a low point in my life when I had to stop and realize that this was not who I was as a person and this was not who I wanted to be. At the time, despite working as a plus-size model at a size 14, I wanted to get healthier and feel more comfortable in my skin, but like so many women, what started as a healthy goal took a dark turn and I had gone too far. I had lost 60 pounds and had gone from a size 14 to a 6, losing all of my plus-size clients and income. I was too small for plus-size modeling and too big for straight-size modeling at a size 6.
Because modeling was the only job I had since high school, continuing to work as a model was the driving force pushing me to get smaller and smaller as I jeopardized my health with every pound. I will never forget that day I sat on the kitchen floor alone and distraught over having a taste of frosting from a batch of cupcakes I had made for a friend’s party. I felt sad, angry, lost, and like a failure in more ways than one. I failed in my attempts to be healthy, I failed in my attempt to be small enough to work as model, and worst of all, I failed myself and my spirit. As I sat and talked with my now husband, I cried and told him I hated this industry and what it does to girls, both models and the girls who look up to them. I told him I wanted to quit and do something meaningful with my life. He said to me, “You can quit, but if you quit, who is going to help change it?” That was the defining moment for me when I realized that I could do nothing or I could do something, and I am not a do-nothing kind of girl.
As for glass ceilings…when you get close enough, you realize they are just holograms. It isn’t about breaking them; it is about just moving through them because when you do that, you realize the challenges they represent keep shifting and changing. As women, we won’t be able to break through one challenge and not immediately be faced with another equally daunting challenge. But if you can realize that these challenges only have power over you if you allow them to, then you take control and the outcome is in your hands, depending upon how hard you are willing to work.
I continue to strive for more from this extremely limiting industry because I continue to strive for more of myself as a woman. Through my experiences, I have realized that I am capable of so much more than being beautiful, and so is every single girl and woman. I have also realized that with our current culture that is image-obsessed, there are ways to use beauty for good and share the truth. I now have a 10-month-old daughter named True, and she is my daily reminder to be true to myself and to be fearless as we fight for the female spirit that is hurting. Our culture only believes what it can see; that is why it is important to show different forms of beauty and value them equally, but the end goal is for girls and women to no longer need permission to love and value themselves from others.