“I’ve always had issues with my body.” Louise Adkins on the pressures she’s faced as a model in Part II of her Modeltypeface interview
Just in case you missed it, you can see Part I of Louise’s wonderful interview with Modeltypeface on the previous post – she doesn’t mince her words! With no further ado, here’s Part II!
R: Though I put a few pictures in Part I, I want people to know what a mega model you are. What are some of the stand out shoots when you look back?
L: I would say my absolute best job was the Burberry campaign, which I did very soon after I started modelling. Not only was it amazing to work with Mario Testino, who is the most lovely person, but this is the shoot that helped to get me the majority of my jobs in the first few years and propelled me up the modelling ladder.
Plus I just love this shot!
I also love couture editorial shoots, which are often shot in very strong in amazing locations like this one, on location in an iron ore mine in Slovenia:
I also love these:
R: I remember Select had a notice board with a standout Polaroid of certain girls on it. I can clearly see the one of you – your hands over your head, showing off your absolutely tiny waist and your bust, which is pretty sizeable for a model. I was so jealous of your figure! Have you always been confident about it?
L: It’s true I’ve always been slim, but I’ve always had issues with my body. When I was younger, I was so lanky and unco-ordinated that I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Since puberty hit, I’ve always been told that I have big hips and a big butt – especially in comparison to my waist, which has always been tiny.
Of course I know that my waist is tiny, but I’ve always worried that it’s not flat enough. I have a crease across my stomach and a podge of fat above it, which I have discovered since becoming pregnant will never go away! Even stretched out by pregnancy my stomach still has a crease line across my stomach and the never-budging podge. It’s no wonder that the ridiculous amount of stomach workouts I did I couldn’t get rid of it!
I’m not seeing any podge, but I can be bad at having body confidence, too!
I never felt comfortable wearing lingerie on shoots, and I never wanted to do nude as I have stretch marks on my hips from when I shot up as a teenager. However, since becoming pregnant, I have embraced my body more than ever! I feel more sexy and I am more comfortable in my own skin, and I love being naked! I even did a naked photo-shoot, which I absolutely loved doing. I’ll always treasure the pictures. I think they were a great way of capturing the beauty of pregnancy and my body before it gets stretch marks all over it and my belly is like jelly!
R: I’m hard on myself, but (weirdly and luckily) agencies have always been pretty chilled about my body. Did you have the same experience?
L: They were always tough on me. I would never wear jeans to the agency as they would tell me my hips looked big, so instead I would always be in a flowing dress to disguise them. There was so much focus on my hips – I would be given workouts to do to slim them down. I did the Great North Run, the training for which left me feeling the fittest, healthiest and slimmest I’ve ever been. Even then I was taken to one side in the agency and told I needed to lose weight off my hips. I felt so aware of them, but looking at these Polaroids they don’t look huge to me!
R: My biggest bugbear was when they’d have a model with big boobs and pressure them to lose more and more weight in the hope that her boobs would shrink. I’ve seen that a few times. Did you encounter anything ridiculous like that?
L: Oh, I remember one designer in Paris during Fashion Week. I went for the casting and they said that they’d love to use me – but my shoulders were too narrow. They said that if I could go to the gym and bulk up they would use me next season. Please! I obviously didn’t do that and subsequently I didn’t get the job, but if you did everything a casting director told you, you would be forever changing every part of your body.
R: I’d love to say I’m resilient, and I know it comes with the job, but I find my body being scrutinised (no matter how ridiculous) really hard…
L: Although I always tried to be strong and stand up for myself, I often walked out of the agency or a casting a jabbering wreck. I’d ring Phil or my mum crying, but I would never let it show in front of anyone. I don’t know why I never told anyone the effect their words had on me – maybe it was my way of coping in the very opinionated world of modelling.
Louise didn’t let her emotions show
At some point I gave up listening to them and tried to embrace my body for what it is and be thankful. Sadly, though, I think it’s taken me ’til my 30s and pregnant to truly accept how good I looked when I was younger. Now I’m just hoping that my body is not too destroyed when the baby comes out and Phil still finds me attractive.
R: Oh Louise, I’m sure you’ll look beautiful and Phil will think so too! Especially cos you made a baby in there! So you’ve moved up to Leicester now, and you said you were looking for stability. What’re your plans for the future?
L: I wanted a regular salary, and a job where I was still working with women and I could be an advocate for them, so I decided to become a midwife. I went back to college and got a distinction in Access to Nursing and Midwifery, and I got into my first choice university, back at De Montfort Leicester, which I was thrilled about.
I loved the start of the course but then in the March, fate threw a spanner in the works and I fell pregnant! So I’ve spent the rest of my First Year just trying to not be sick and being utterly exhausted, which is never fun.
R: Fair play for carrying on with the course – I’m so impressed with you doing your exams whilst heavily pregnant! Have you done any modelling whilst pregnant?
L: I have had the opportunity to do a few jobs while pregnant, though not many. Annoyingly, I think I’ve been the wrong gestation at the wrong time to get the big money jobs, but I did get the naked shoot which I absolutely adore. You can’t even tell I’m pregnant in the beauty shot.
I also shot some unrecognisable for New Look, which I still love with my mini bump.
Now I have maternity leave, I might try to get back into my ultimate passion, which is being creative and making things! I love making jewellery, taking photos and sewing, so hopefully I will get a little time to be creative before my new arrival takes over my life. Although no doubt I will be capturing every moment of this little ones life on camera!
Some of Louise’s creations
R: So finally, looking back (as well as forward!) what are your overarching thoughts about your modelling career so far?
L: Well firstly, how bloody lucky and privileged I’ve been. The travel and the friends I’ve made (some of whom made it out to Thailand for the wedding!) are incredible.
One particular, pivotal moment sticks out for me. An agency from New York came over to London and offered me a new contract. However, they said that I’d need to lose weight and move out to NYC for a whole year to build my name back up again. I remember Michelle, the head booker at Select, taking me to the side and talking to me about it. She basically said that I could either go and break into the big time and become a top model, or I could stay in London and carry on as I was. I do sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out had I just gone for it and lost the weight and stuck it out in New York. Would I have hit the big time (and big bucks?!)
Looking at my life now, though, I know that I made the right decision to stay in London. First of all I was so bloody skinny as it was, I would have made myself ill to be any skinnier. Secondly, I doubt that I could have taken being away from Phil for that long. Maybe if I’d gone to New York we would not be together now, and I wouldn’t be sitting here saying this to you with his baby kicking me in the ribs.
R: *Wipes tear from eye* I think you made the right choice, too! Thank you Louise and good luck with the baby! xx
Louise is at Profile Models