I first met Tricia Campbell at the shooting of a fashion show; as someone who isn’t a model, I marveled at the atmosphere around me and I quickly realized how demanding the life of a model can be. For Tricia, this is life.
Tricia was sweet and generous as we began having a conversation about her life as a plus size model. She shared a few thoughts; she described the recent Lane Bryant commercial that was flagged for being “overly sexualized” because it featured a plus size model in under garments (which the general public is not used to). I decided then I needed to learn more about this world of fashion and what plus size models go through. She was not only generous, but open minded and filled with knowledge. I had to pick her brain!
We decided to meet for 24 Blogazine’s first interview with a curvy model. Union square was our meet-up and she was easy to spot; her big curly hair, glorious smile and a bright green shirt made her stand out. We walked to a local Thai restaurant where we sat and talked and drank not-so -good coconut martinis. The conversation was so enlightening that it didn’t matter what we were drinking.
And her story began…
She grew up in Jamaica and moved to the US in the 1990s. She attended the FIT School of Design and did modeling on the side, until she decided to pursue it full time. Tricia explained that in Jamaica women are embraced for being curvaceous and her mother, who taught her to be confident, was a proud fashionista herself. In the fashion world here, Tricia has encountered a few obstacles to being not only a plus-size model, but also a black woman. As a black, plus-size model, it is more competitive since there are fewer opportunities for them in the fashion industry, especially in the European markets. Tricia also realized that in the US, the everyday perception of a curvaceous woman was challenging; she explained that as a proud curvaceous woman, she was taken aback when she received “bad stares” in South Beach, Miami because she was wearing a bathing suit and “wasn’t a size two.” One guy also came up to her and asked, “You’re not from around here, are you?”
In fashion, sometimes you are treated as if you aren’t from around here in the sense that certain photographers refuse to shoot a plus-size or curvaceous model. Tricia insists that you must treat your modeling job as a business. You can’t just trust your agent to get you every gig. It’s a job and you are your own boss. You have to stay on top of your schedule and can never be late for any appointment because you’ll lose your job and reputation. Many women want to be models, Tricia says “but they don’t realize it is high maintenance; your teeth, hair, skin, nails have to be in order.” You can’t be a diva!
As a 5’7’’ commercial plus-size model, Tricia is well known for being a muse in the fashion industry. She is a great conversationalist and very professional. This month, she was featured in Essence Magazine for the “very voluptuous” bathing suit feature. Campbell says she had an amazing experience at this photo shoot and felt the photographer really wanted to shoot her. She was also recently on BET’s Rip the Runway where she debuted designer, Monif C’s Barbados Plunge V/ Plus Size Swimsuit in gold. She is also a fit model for Wal-Mart and Target, where she meets with the CEO, designer, marketing director and merchandiser to discuss marketing strategies for the clothes. Campbell described how there’s a lot of pressure as a fit model because you are basically a life-size mannequin and must maintain your weight, since you have to be exactly the same size you are on paper. Campbell believes in “no starving.” She eats the same thing everyday, including wheat toast, egg whites, turkey bacon and fruit in the morning. For lunch and dinner, she eats green salad, some type of fish or turkey burger and on Sunday she gives herself a little treat and goes to iHop. Moreover, what most people don’t know is you have to be ready to work all the time. You never know when you’ll be called for your next fit modeling or go-see job. On top of maintaining the very strict schedule of a full time model, Tricia finds time to teach! Yes, she teaches at the Plus Academy located at Ripley’s Studios, a fashion school for Plus-Size women that instructs on beauty etiquette, Shape wear, plus-size modeling classes and more. Tricia is the instructor for “Get in where you fit.” This is all encompassing fit modeling course, which occurs every Saturday from 11am- 12:30pm. It’s inspiring that Tricia is a beautiful, confident and curvaceous model, but that she finds time to give back to her community is truly astounding. She spends the little free time she does have with her family or researching. She says you have to “research in order to keep up with the industry.”
Towards the culmination of our interview, I asked Tricia what motivates her to model and she said “I think of the little girl in Arizona who’s starving herself,” and she thinks to herself, this young girl needs to see more women like her, a model who is beautiful, curvy and proud.
Now the question most people want to know- how hard is it to become a model? Here is Tricia Campbell’s checklist for what you need:
- Know who you are (inside & out) You’ll get a lot of no’s and you’ll have to prepared for them
- Confidence is key
- Research the business (know what you’re doing)
- The height requirement for a plus-size model is 5’7” – 6’ (sizes 8-18) (ideally 12-18*)
- Beautiful skin (well-groomed)
- Model bag (heels, foundation, strapless bra, extra clothes)
- If you are a young girl (13, 14) you need a parent with you
- Know your worth ($ rates)
- Know it’s a business (there are contracts that need to be signed; know what you’re signing)
- Don’t get discouraged!
- If you’re interested in commercial modeling, know that there is no size requirement
Tricia’s motto comes from what she has learned from her parents- “never let anyone define who you are; you are the creator of your own destiny!”