It's tough. My mom told me this story yesterday. Her friend's daughter, a 10-year-old girl, went to her mom crying because she felt fat. Her mom showed her my picture, and it made her feel better, but it's crazy that a girl that young is crying about being fat. The models do keep getting skinnier. I guess people want to see someone richer or better-looking than they are so they can aspire to that, but really, those images end up making them feel worse about themselves. I would like to be the woman who shows them a more realistic way to look at their bodies. When I was losing weight, if I had tried to look like Heidi Klum, I would have gotten really discouraged. I'm never going to be that skinny. But when I saw Beyonce and JLo, I thought, "Wow, I could lose weight and look like them. They look good."
Do you think black and Latino women are given more leeway to be round than Asian and white women?
That's what I'm trying to change. I'm trying be the white woman who shows that curvy is sexy in any culture.
How do you instill confidence in girls about their bodies?
You need to help them see that they shouldn't compare themselves to others. You have to look inside to be confident. I hang around with models who are very skinny, and I could get insecure. But I know I'm never going to be that thin, and I'm OK with that. It's important for girls to see women out there who are confident and can show them it's OK to look like this. It's acceptable. It's beautiful.
Do you remember that particular picture being shot?
I'm friends with the photographer's assistant, and I think we were just joking around. I was just laughing, fooling around, having a good time on set. I never would have thought five years ago that I would have the nerve to do a shoot nude. That was my first nude shoot ever. I was surprised, but I felt very comfortable. Everyone was very professional. I remember a long time ago I read in a magazine that you should get yourself comfortable in a bikini by wearing it around the house before wearing it to the beach. I did that before the shoot, trying to get comfortable not having clothes on. I think Walter Chin caught me when I forgot for a second that we where shooting and I was just laughing, not thinking straighten this, do that.
Was that photo good for you work-wise?
The month of September is going to be the most I've ever worked in a month. For clients who had come close to using me before, this was the final push. This little picture is getting recognition and I'm loving it. Bring it on, I'm ready to work.