There are a handful of important women changing the standards in the modeling industry right now. Kate Upton comes to mind, and we couldn’t be more proud of hometown girl Jessica Lewis for representing Canada in a new era of beauty. The “plus” size model is not only a vision of beauty, but a body image activist who is changing the model stereotype one hot photo shoot, kickass campaign, and red carpet appearance at a time…
Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
I’m a “plus” size model, body image activist, and creative director. I’m also in school for nutritional science, just out of personal interest. I wear many hats! I’m fashion in many aspects and very progressive in my views. I say “plus” [with quotes] because I don’t view myself as that. It’s an industry term. I do a lot of work surrounding the images that fashion presents to the public, pushing for honesty and a more relatable, realistic standard of beauty. The majority of the images I put out myself, be it as a model or a CD, really depict that. I’m not huge on tons of post work, and I love seeing all sizes and beauty ideals portrayed. Oh, and I shoot nudes quite a bit, too. For me, the purpose of getting naked isn’t just to be naked, it’s to show that I’m a model and my body fluctuates; I have stretch marks, I have bad tattoos, sometimes I have a bit of a tummy, but I’m healthy, happy and confident. That is an ideal that should be presented as beautiful, realistic, and accepted by everyone.
What are the biggest challenges and best rewards about what you do?
Well, I’ve been told I’m a trailblazer a few times now by people. It’s not always an easy task trying to change what the standard has been for so long. There’s a lot of rejection and research into which people in the industry would be most excited and inspired to try something different. I must say though, I’m very lucky in that a lot of my confidence and my inspiration is found in the other women who are working on the diversity movement both here in NYC and abroad. On occasion, I’ll get messages from younger girls’ mothers saying how much they love my work and thanking me for giving their daughters confidence – this has been in reference to my nudes! It’s a brave new world.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Music, coconut water, and my bright orange Mackage bag – it’s amazing for hauling my laptop, comps, heels, and school books around in.
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…it’s a city with both a small-town personality and a big personality and lots of talent. I also love its parks. I try to make time for at least one Bellwoods hangout while I’m home.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
I can’t pick just one! There’s a great food truck called Gourmet B1tches. They have great options if you’re gluten intolerant. Or Live Food Bar… totally vegan, totally yummy. And they do amazing brunch! Bonus: Both are owned and run by two of the hottest femme restaurateurs in the city.
What’s one of your favourite go-to designers/brands or accessories lines and why do you sport their fashions?
As I’m doing a mental inventory of my closet… Mackage. I have so many Mackage items from over the years. All their stuff just ages so well and is so timeless. I have great trenches from years ago that people are still asking me about today. Their bags are amazing, too. I also really love Birkenstocks. I always have, and now they’re making an appearance with the rise of Normcore. It’s fantastic. One can never have too many Birks. I have heels of course, but honestly, they kill my feet.
What style trends are you obsessed with right now?
Normcore. All about it. The high-waisted ripped jeans, baggy transparent button-ups – it’s just such an easy, sexy look. I’m not really one to follow trends. I usually do my own thing and take bits of inspiration here and there. A great quote I heard once upon a time is, “Red lips and a naked body will never go out of style.”
What’s your favourite spa or service?
Pure + Simple! Their facials are amazing. All natural with no fake scents or any of that garbage. They always do a skin analysis when I come in and customize the facial to how my skin is.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with your busy life?
I’m most active on Facebook and Instagram. I have Twitter, but for some reason it never really resonated with me. I tweet once in a while but Instagram is my groove.