Carmen’s struggles made her stronger

Meet Carmen, she started modeling when she was 15. When she got older (19) and became more womanly, she was told by her agency her sizes weren’t good enough for modeling anymore. She took a long break and used it well by doing a study to become a Nutritionist. Now she’s ready to fly again.

Why do you want to start modeling again?
After my agency told me I had to loose weight I took a break. I didn’t know what kind of direction I wanted to go anymore, I struggled. So I took some time to find out what I wanted and reflected everything that happened so far. This made me stronger. I decided I do want to work in the fashion industry as a model. It offers me so much like travelling, discovering new places, new cultures, meeting new people. It provides me freedom. And I really enjoy working with a team and creating a piece of art, a good picture. And all this fun stuff, you get paid for as well.
So I took action on getting back in shape. I work out 5 times a week, running, kettebelt training and yoga. Besides I try to be as active as possible in my daily life by going by bike and walking instead of going by tram and car. Also I try to watch what I eat. I’m not on a diet, but make sure I eat healthy, and occasionally I enjoy myself with something extra. 

How did you become a model that young?
Other people always told me I looked good in pictures and so I sent my pictures to different agencies and Max Models called me for a casting and they took me in. My second job was already for a really big Dutch Lingerie brand called Marlies Dekkers.

Which qualities you have are good for being a model?
I can be very focused and professional during work. I’m a quiet person and I try to be sweet for everybody on set. That’s my nature. I open myself up for other people and am really interested in who they are. I want to give other people a good feeling.

What tips would you give to other starting models?
It’s a pretty hard world, you must take rejection very well. I doubted myself often because of this. 

“You must see the criticisms separate from you as a person. It’s not how you are for real, it’s only about your job.”

At first I felt they attacked me and I struggled with rejection at such a young age. I armed myself against it. If your measurements are not good enough, you do not have to change yourself, you are well suited for other things and other assignments.

Do you think they put unreasonable demands on the models in the fashion industry?
I think they are tough and they may be a bit more human and more realistic. They can also have some plus-size good models. Size 36 is already a plus size for some of them. Can you imagine? That label must be taken off. It is as a stamp is printed on you. If you are reasonable, size 36 is not a plus size.
Not everyone should be placed in the same category. It’s unrealistic to be that skinny if you get older. And often it’s not healthy either.

“Women do not identify with a woman who is too skinny.”

A healthy slim body is nice, but not too thin. Being healthy is the most important thing and should not be put at risk for your work. In the end it’s only a job.

What is the best memory you have while working as a model?
I worked in Monaco and Cannes for an Italian magazine and I wore dresses of Roberto Cavalli. It was located at a Villa with a sea view and the location was incredible beautiful. Everything was right. The team, the dresses, the location. I loved it.

What is a definition of a good team for you?
It’s important that there’s a good connection between everybody. Also, that everybody is clear in what they want and expect. If everybody knows what should be done, everything goes smooth and it does not feel like work at all.
Once I was sick in Thailand, but members of the team took good care of me. The photo-shoot went very well due to the good teamwork. 

So you have travelled a lot for your job. Which is your favourite place to go?
My all time favorite is New York. New York has many different cultures, it’s a very international setting, there’s a good vibe. I  hope I will live here one day. Paris is also a nice city but harder though. 

What 3 tips would you give people to do in New York?
1) Go for a run or doing some sport at the Central Park.
2) Visit the Moma, Museum of Modern Art.
3) Do sightseeing at Greenwich. It’s a funky area, lots of fun barrels, funky shops, young people, good atmosphere, an artistic neighborhood. I love to walk there and take a look around.

What do you like about The Netherlands?
That we are such an open country, everything is possible and allowed, we are able to proclaim our own opinion. I think liberty of speech is very important. We are blessed to grow up in the Netherlands.

And what do you like about Dutch people?
They are sweet and hospitable. They’re open to explore things out of their comfort zone, they are open-minded. And they are academic too, I like that.

You studied nutrition, I can imagine why you were attracted by the subject, tell me more…
I thought it was interesting, to learn how to support your health and look good at the same time. Of course I was attracted to this subject because I struggled with my weight. I learned from my struggle and found a good balance.
Half the world’s population becomes fat nowadays. And on the other hand, you have all those fanatic Instagram fit-girls that go too far. There must be balance. It would be interesting to help other people finding their balance.

What’s your next step?
I’m not with an agent right now, so I’m going to do a casting in Milan at Monster, an international Model Agency. Also, I go back to Max Models in the Netherlands, to apply again.
International work is my goal, working and living in New York my dream.

What’s important for you in life?
To love yourself, family, health. Have fun in the things you do. Do not take everything too seriously because life can be over, so do what you want and not what the society wants you to do.

How would you like to see the world in the future? What can we do better as human beings?
We should be much more open for other cultures.

“We should be human again, less Internet, less mobile phones, more real human contact”

Young generations are constantly busy with their phone. It’s hard to have a real conversation with someone. Online you can hide yourself. Younger generations don’t talk to each other in real life anymore, they are only texting. The real contact is a bit gone. 

What could we do as a society about it?
Schools should pay more attention to this subject.

What inspires you in life?
People who completely follow their own path no matter what, and do what they want, without hurting others of course. Ultimate freedom.

“Do not disregard yourself for the sake of others. Work on your own goals and follow your own path no matter what others say”

Who inspires you as a model in this?
Romee Strijd, a Dutch model living in New York, had her purpose of working for Victoria Secret while people gave her other kind of advice. Ultimately she succeeds her goal. I also like her because she doesn’t act like someone else, she’s completely herself.

Do you have role models?
People from my family. My grandmother, who came from Indonesia to The Netherlands during the 60’s and has build a new life in another country with a complete different culture with my grandfather.
My mom, a single mom, who started her own business, a yoga school. She inspires and helps other people and brings people together. Beautiful things happen. She started from nothing to something.
And my aunt as well. People who no matter what, will follow their own path.

What are you grateful for in life?
I’m grateful that I grew up in a loving family. Even though my parents divorced each other, they got me everything my heart desires.
I’m glad I was born in the Netherlands, in a free country.
I’m happy to wake up every morning in good health and that because of that I’m able to do the things I’m doing right now.

What are you most proud of?
I am proud that I have been able travelling a lot as a teenager and see so many wonderful places at such a young age. I’m proud of my family and my boyfriend.
I’m proud of the things I’ve learned already; even I’m still young. The difficult things in life, the struggle I’ve had made me really stronger, I learned a lot from it.

What are your dreams for the future?
Working and living as a model in New York.
Later, after modeling, I would like to set up my own business so I can help and inspire other people. I do not know exactly what. To help them having a better life, maybe… but I don’t know yet.
What’s your live slogan?

Everything will turn out fine in the end. And another: Things are the way they are. 

“Accept what you can’t change, and change what you cannot accept”

Would you like to change anything about yourself?
I would like to be more confident, sometimes….have more confidence in what I’m .

Is there anything else you like to say?
Although it’s dark for a while, the light will come and there will be always a path meant to be for you, on your way.

“Never give up”

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