Modelling and Motherhood Pt III: Jenny Meister
I’ve started a wonderful new project called ‘Modelling and Motherhood’, asking all the questions an uninitiated model might worry about parenthood. What happens to your work, your body, your priorities?
Last time I asked Jen Dawson, who had both hilarious and profound things to say. And Louise Inchley spoke with brutal honesty about how it’s altered her relationship with her body.
This time, it’s the turn of Jenny Meister, who I’ve known for donkey’s years! In the flesh she’s every bit as serene, ethereal and intelligent as she comes across in her pictures, and Jenny has enjoyed a fantastic career.
She’s done high profile Dior campaigns as well as huge commercial jobs for Clairol and Rush salons, and I suspected that she would have taken on motherhood with the same self-possession and gusto that she’s tackled modelling. Here’s what she had to say….
Hey Jenny! You have a gorgeous, gorgeous daughter. How has she changed your life?!
In every way! I feel so incredibly lucky to have this little ray of light around me and remind me of what is truly important. She’s changed the way I look at the importance of things, so worries struggles are less, and I celebrate the every day joys more.
Being a mother has been the most amazing, rewarding job so far in my life. But it is also challenging! Kids are like a mirror to yourself, so sometimes your biggest failings are laughing right at you in the face.
I try to see the humour in it all and I have her daddy remind me when I forget, haha! He is the best father I could have wished for Scarlett, he has such a great easy approach to things – I am learning every day from both of them!
What was your biggest fear, as a model, before having Scarlett?
I never thought about what may come after her. I never worried about what may happen to my body or work – I assumed it would all go back to how it was before, so I just concentrated on being pregnant and taking care of myself and then on taking care of her.
The real challenge came after she was born and I had a few tough months adjusting. I was used to travelling lots and being very independent, and all of a sudden found myself with a baby that obviously needed me ALL THE TIME.
It sounds a bit petty to others, but a huge concern for many models is what it’ll do to our bodies! It could really change our employability. Was this a worry to you?
Never! I am a model who eats and loves life too much to always worry about the next job, calories or sugar, gluten free etc [Amen! – R]. I am impressed with women who are so disciplined and can do that, but time is a luxury and I don’t have that for food. My biggest pleasure is a nice meal with friends and loved ones and I could snack ALL day long.
I also trusted nature and kept very active during pregnancy and after too, not so much because i worried about my body but because I think labour is the most physical challenge you’ll ever go through and I took on that challenge like an athlete. You don’t go running a marathon without training for it…
Did you find it easy to get back into shape after Scarlett?
I thought I looked great, haha. I lost all the weight but the last 2kgs immediately, had no stretch marks (really lucky) and I felt ready for work again soon after but then was told otherwise and that was tough.
Shedding weight reluctantly (I clearly didn’t do it for me, but work) was really difficult. Finding the time to work out, eat well and rest seemed impossible with the baby. I tried all sorts of diets and exercise and nothing worked, so eventually I had a personal trainer and nutritionist to help me and a very hard month later i was back at work.
How did your agency react when you said you were pregnant?
I worked ‘normal’ until I was pretty much 5 months pregnant as I was barely showing and then I moved straight into maternity model jobs. I had no idea that world was such a huge business and I hit a lucky time with stock delivered, new campaigns to be shot, and the size of my bump. I then worked until a week before my daughter’s birth but not everyone feels great during pregnancy, you just have to go with what’s right for you.
Instinct and gut feeling is the number one lesson when you enter motherhood even during your pregnancy.
You’ve done work experience in PR and you are very successful job as a model. This is MY huge worry: As models we often embark on a new career when our bodies want to start having babies! Was this a fear for you, that modelling is unpredictable?
I have been extremely lucky to do a job that I love that much and for this amount of time. I started work at 15 and have been told since I am 21 that I am probably too old for it and I am STILL working!
Passion never grows old. It is also a job that has its ups and downs, so when I hit a quiet patch I get nervous, irritated and frustrated. I am not good just sitting at home waiting around for my fortune to turn, so I do things. I am interested in so many other things so I worked in TV presenting, voiceover, PR and Casting. I loved it all! It has been such a great experience and I would go back to some of these jobs immediately and explore more, but I am also excited to see what life has in store for me and just go with it!
Modelling is flexible (in the sense that you don’t always work and it’s up to you if you turn stuff down!) Do you think the motherhood and modelling work together?
I have never in all my career turned down a job. Family and health always come first, so we sometimes had to work ‘around’ a certain schedule but I never turned down anything for money or because ‘it wasn’t good enough for me’.
I love my job no matter what I have to wear or look like, and if we can make it work I will do it! I have done jobs for no money shooting until late in the cold or heat, it doesn’t matter – I just love being part of the creative process! But it does help to get paid at times haha!
What would you say to any models thinking about having a baby who are a bit scared?
It is the biggest gift to enjoy in life to give life and take care of others! Never ever not do it because of a job, it is just work we do to earn money to pay for the things we want to do and enjoy.
Becoming a parent is the biggest joy and truly life changing experience, if you are lucky enough to get the opportunity presented, grab it, ride it and enjoy it, I would say! I have friends who unfortunately never had the luck, others who hope to, and more who dream that the day is still coming. I wish them all to get what they want and then go for many well caffeinated drinks together and laugh about the ‘expertise’ of being the most amazing mom in the world whilst screaming at your naughty little one and tearing your hair out!
Wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us all!