Meet our November muse, Katherine. Katherine is a model and LGBTQ+ activist from Toronto. Brimming with confidence, Kat is someone that embodies the word ‘muse’. Her tenacity, spirit and inspirational body pride make us thrilled to feature her at Mary Young this month.
Katherine! We are so grateful to introduce you to our community this month! You’re beautiful and these photos are stunning. They make me want to shave my head!
Modelling has been one of my dreams since I was a child. I have alopecia which is why I have a shaved head. I got diagnosed during quarantine; I just started losing big chunks of my hair. Suddenly within a two week span, it started falling out in clumps. And I asked my doctor if it would come back and he said, “it might, it might not.” And then in a split second I decided to shave it and it actually looked good!
Oh wow, were you modelling before that?
Nope! I felt really insecure about who I was. Like I changed my hair all the time. I always changed my style because I just didn't know who I really was. I was moving around a lot as well, so I found it hard to stay stable and focus on an agency. But it’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid. I remember being in front of the mirror and posing and strutting and stuff; and now I get to make that a reality which is just unreal.
How has navigating the industry been as an “atypical model”?
I've really enjoyed it because I think it has really let me shine. I don't have to be anybody else, which honestly is a weight lifted off my shoulders. I don't feel the pressure to look a certain way. I don't feel that pressure to fill a standard. I know that I look different and I think that's what's helped me get modelling roles. I've been to shoots where people have said, you're so fun and we haven't seen somebody look like you before; you have a completely different look and that's really exciting. And I capitalize on that. I'm just a person who's pretty outspoken about life in general, so being unique and working in that niche makes the most sense for me.
I wouldn't have it any other way. I think a lot of my life I was trying to fit a mold — especially as a teenager, I felt like I had a lot of pressure to be skinny. I went on a bunch of fad diets. And even when I was skinny, I still wasn't skinny enough. I think once I started listening to my body, eating healthy, exercising, but also not beating myself up if I want a glass of wine, or I want to eat a chocolate bar, I’ve started to have a more healthy relationship with my body.
For sure. And have you seen campaigns shift and change with plus sizes in mind?
Yeah, especially with brands like Savage X Fenty, or even Fashion Nova. I shopped a lot at Fashion Nova because I feel like they make clothes for plus size women that are also sexy. That was really important for me because I was plus sized, but I was also like 19, I want to look sexy not matronly and like a grandma; which for a long time were the only options in plus sizes
Totally. It just wasn't represented.
Exactly. And just because I’m plus sized, I don't want to wear this humongous shapeless dress that only has cut outs on the shoulders to look spicy. This is not my style. I want to wear a tight leather mini dress and I want to embrace that.
And I feel like as of late, a lot of companies have started seeing that shift. Even in the skincare industry, more alternative and plus sized models. Shaved heads aren’t as edgy as they used to be and I’m celebrating it.
That's so true. The world of modelling is so intimidating to me — I feel like modelling is like 95% confidence. Where do you draw on that confidence from?
I think not being afraid to look stupid is so important. Like it's okay. If you're with a good photographer, they'll help you. I do practice in the mirror, but also I’ve reached a point where I’m okay with rejection. When I was younger, I was really badly bullied for how I looked, my size, etc. And that experience has made me only stronger.
I obviously don’t book everything I audition for and I’m okay with that. I really like being unique. I think that's where a lot of my confidence comes from. If I was really comparing myself to every single person, I would probably never get out of my house in the mornings. But being unique, knowing yourself, knowing your worth, that is really important.
That’s an amazing way of looking at things. I can’t imagine the scrutiny of growing up on social media — especially as a teenager.
Yea I was posting stuff on Instagram when I was a teenager. And I definitely went through it in waves. I remember when I was in high school, I would get so stressed out. I used to go to a uniform school, but on non-uniform days, I would plan my outfits in advance. And I would have a meltdown every single time an outfit didn't look quite how I envisioned it in my mind. And I would be so cruel to myself. I would pinch my skin and be like, this looks so ugly on me, why do I look so fat, blah, blah, blah. But just growing and travelling has helped me a lot because it's made me realize that our beauty standards are so, so, so arbitrary. Every country and time span beauty standards are and have shifted. Studying fashion history and beauty standards throughout history has also helped me because in 20 minutes we’re on to the next thing. I think being comfortable with yourself and having that confidence will make you attractive no matter what, no matter what the standard.
And in the end no one else’s opinion matters, but your own.
Exactly. And modelling has really allowed me to come into my own which I’m so grateful for.
Speaking of gratitude… you’ve touched upon our intention this month! What does gratitude mean to you?
Well honestly I'm grateful to have had almost like a second chance at life. I was in the hospital early on this year for mental health reasons and I was not doing well and it was really hard for me. I didn't want to live anymore. So I think having that second chance at life has made me so grateful. I was able to move back to Toronto, live downtown in a condo, which I never thought I wasn't going to be able to do and be a model — such a dream come true.
I’ve also really been able to embrace my community. I’m a lesbian and a huge LGBTQ+ rights activist. This past year I’ve been able to grow into my own in that space, and flourish and make friends and feel accepted. If I look back at myself in February to now, I wouldn’t believe it.
That is incredible that you have been able to do all of that in less than a year — talk about doing the work and personal growth!
Yea I just feel like I'm super grateful to have had the opportunity to do that and to have met such amazing people and to have a really great support system and my siblings, my family and friends. I'm so grateful for 2021. It started off not great, but it's turned into something amazing. Even during this pandemic, I think I've always been kind of a person who's always persevered and who's tried to make the best of my situation. So yes even through this I am grateful for things like technology, like Zoom. I've learned just how much I took for granted pre-pandemic as well. Just being out, living my life as an exciting young person. I used to think that would always be there.
That’s true, these past two years have given us so much to reflect on and be grateful for. What advice would you give to someone who was either looking at a similar path or just hoping to gain more confidence?
Don’t let fear and rejection paralyze you. There's such a big wide world out there. You're not going to be everybody's cup of tea and you just need to be your own cup of tea. And people will see that.