“I struggled as a plus size model when I cut my hair really short.”
The fashion industry is slowly, but surely, becoming more diverse, however there always is room for improvement. We’re all different and “diverse” in our own way, so I guess it’s impossible to be diverse enough so as to please everyone, however, when it comes to curvy or plus size models, there’s one “popular”, somehow agreed upon pattern of body type and that’s the only one that gets featured. Tall, curvy – but not in any way – in that certain hourglass shape, little to no cellulite, there might be a tummy (but a small one – the ass needs to be big, not the tummy), long hair and facial features chiseled to perfection. And, while some people look like that, not everyone does – we don’t need another pattern, another standard to worry about. There’s not one way to be a curvy model and Elizabeth Estrada is living, breathing proof of that.
The basics – tell us more about you & what you do.
I am a 27 year old girl who currently resides in Ventura, California. I kind of “fell” into modeling after working several bartending jobs and as a skincare specialist at Sephora. I had hopes of moving to Los Angeles and becoming a car/ motorcycle photographer. I had just bought my first bike (this was 2014) and spent a lot of time and money trying ( ‘trying’ being the operative word) to make it run properly.
I figured I could bartend out in LA to make most of my money but was looking for something else to do part time that had potentially high pay off. While working at Sephora I was often used as the face model when someone was getting certified to be a makeup artist. People would say things like “Hey, you should become a model!” There was always an obvious flaw in their plan…I was, and have been since middle school, a solid size 12-14. Then someone mentioned “Plus Size” modeling. I did a bit of research and this being a very small world, I ended up knowing a friend of a plus size model. I got her Email address and reached out. To my surprise she replied very quickly, was helpful and led me to Natural Models LA’s website. It was there I applied. The following week they requested a meeting with me, so I showed up in my leather motorcycle jacket and beat up boots completely out of my element. I was offered a contract that day; was able to quit all of my 3 jobs, I had at the time, after booking my first job with Forever 21. I have worked pretty steadily ever since.
What do you like more, being in front or behind the camera?
I was a photographer long before I became a model and both situations can be uncomfortable. I like being paid to be in front of the camera more than behind it because the pressure to preform is different. Being behind the camera often you can see something, creatively, that the client paying you may be envisioning differently and the pressure to give the client the photograph that they have in their heads is always a struggle. I suppose it goes both ways modeling and being a photographer but usually there is an entire art/ creative team I can talk to on set as a model, to get the vibe of what the client is going for. That never happens if I’m shooting someones senior pictures, wedding, engagement photos etc.
People nowadays keep stressing that you HAVE to love your body, yet few explain how. What’s your advice?
Loving your body cannot be done like flipping on a light switch. Every day is a new day, a new experience and sometimes more of a struggle than other days. When I was about 19 I dealt with a situation at home that made me feel out of control of my life and surroundings. So, I found control in how much I allowed myself to eat. I essentially was eating very clean but also kind of starving myself. I never felt thin enough or good enough and became obsessed with food. What broke the cycle for me was finding a safe and fun way to excercise. I didn’t realize it at the time but environment is a big deal to me and my happiness. I went to a Bikram Yoga studio in my town (having barely ever done any yoga) and tried out one class. It clicked for me, It was a safe, warm, clean environment and gave me the ability to just focus on the task at hand for an hour and a half and breathe. I started to eat more again so that I had enough energy to do yoga properly an started to focus my energy on becoming strong versus “thin”. Somedays I have the confidence of a lioness, somedays I squish my fat rolls and think…” I need to stop eating cheese for a while”. It’s all about happiness and balance.
Are you a feminist?
Yes, by definition feminism is: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. I think women should be paid as much as men for doing the same job, absolutely!
Is representation of all body types in the media important?
It is important to represent ALL body types and show a wide range of body diversity in the media. This is so that people can have a full view and choose to look however /whatever they identify with. When I was growing up and most impressionable I would have loved to have seen a bigger sized or “fat” girl in television to relate to and identify with and as I became older I can still choose if that is what I wanted to identify as or if that no longer resonates with me. I honestly hate labels. Period. Always have. I still hate the label of being someones “girlfriend”, I’m like, “I’m a human, your a human let’s just see where this goes… labels don’t serve us until we are married because it becomes a legality. Let’s just treat each other with respect an love one another.
How would you define beauty?
Beauty is: having confidence, helping others and loving others in a way that feeds your soul. Being an open person that attracts positivity. Being a place of solace that people can turn to for help when they need it. I feel beautiful when I feel I have made a positive impact.
What do you love most about being a model?
What I love most about being a model is how proud my mom and family are of me. I love being able to travel places I probably otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to and meet some very spectacular and creative people. I love the platform it is giving me to reach others. I want that platform to grow and I want to be able to reach and empower many people someday.
What is one thing you’d like to change in the fashion industry
I want to see more diversity. I struggled as a plus size model when I cut my hair really short. Which I think is so narrow minded and ridiculous. It’s another label I face that says “You can only be considered sexy if you’re voluptuous and have long, full, hair to match.” I’m thinking I may cut all my hair off again and try to blaze a sexy short hair trail!
Cats or dogs?
CATS! & dogs that act like cats.
Any current projects you’re excited about?
I’m always trying to travel and book jobs that allow me to do that. I’m also getting in touch with my skincare roots and want to put out a botanical and healthy skincare line in my future.