Q&A With #NeonMoonCelebrateYou Model, Essie
Posted on 08 March 2016
We have had so much fun over the last few weeks and truly appreciated all of your kind words for our #NeonMoonCelebrateYou campaign so we don't want it to stop there! We held another Celebrate You photoshoot but this time for model Essie, shot by a fellow Moroccan Yasmin Benamar, at a secret and sunny location in London. We found out how our lovely Neon Moon Model Essie went from having an eating disorder to becoming a plus size lingerie model! This is an amazing story you will not want to pass up.
1. What made you want to be involved with Neon Moon?
I love my job as a model but I get quite a few sexually charged shoots to do. With plus size modeling that can be the case. I really wanted to do something that was making a stand against that and Neon Moon do some really lovely Photoshop free, desexualized shoots. The underwear is really comfortable even for someone like me who often needs a lot of support under my boobs. It is refreshing to be allowed to be feminine without being sexual.
2. Who has influenced you most throughout your life?
In lots of ways I think I would call myself a loner in the sense that I don’t ever consciously remember being heavily influenced. However, I think my mum and her side of the family probably influenced me the most without me realising it. My whole family is so political; therefore while I was growing up I absorbed political and social awareness from them. I grew up as an only child with a single mum so in that sense I think a parent just influences you by sticking around until you grow up.
3. What has been your hardest struggle to overcome?
That’s a hard one because I often think struggles seem so much bigger in retrospect. I had problems with bullies at school over how I looked or my family background. When you are young it isn’t easy to have that self-confidence where you are confident enough in yourself to know the horrid things they say about you aren’t true. I’ve forgiven all the bullies when I was a child because you change so much as you grow up that I think it wouldn’t be fair to still judge them on that. When I was fifteen/sixteen however, I think it speaks much more to their character than mine. Sixteen isn’t an easy age but I would say the major struggle I overcame was walking away from some argument I had with one of those girls knowing what they said about me wasn’t who I was. Believing enough in myself to know it didn’t matter what they said or thought anymore.
I would also like anyone who is battling an eating disorder to know first that I am still battling too. It takes a lot of dedication to get out of disordered eating habits and change yourself. I developed disordered eating as a child and never really accepted it until my late teens. It's a culmination of many things for me but of course these things are different for different people. Control issues, emotion eating and an obsession with being thin. Most of those women on the catwalks are naturally thin women but some people like me aren't built like that. I didn't understand that as a young girl because I never really saw my own body type in the media. It took a long time to realise it was okay not to be built like that and there are so many different ways to be healthy. Nowadays I try to focus on eating a similar amount every day (as I tended to fast for a week then binge for a few days) and I make sure I'm eating food I enjoy eating. You think being thin will make you happy but truthfully you're just miserably thinking about food 24/7, you're tired, your breath smells, you get stomach cramps and in my case my mood was low. I think as a society we have a very deep, emotional relationship with food and it's not always healthy. I know how hard it is in this day and age and I understand the pressure to be so many things at once. My body has "recovered" somewhat but I wouldn't say my mind has yet. There are people who have recovered though and I think sometimes we need to remember it's a fight people have won.
4. When have you been the most proud of yourself?
This could be really boring of me but even now it’s still my A-Levels. I had some gaps in my education and only really took a year or so of GCSE’s. I managed to pass those with average grades but when A-Levels came about I really wanted to prove myself. Academia means so much to me and I just remember that time as a time in my life where I didn’t cut corners or try and get out of something boring. I was so proud at what came out of that.
5. If you could give one piece of advice to women all over the world, what would it be?
Take your education seriously. There are so many girls in this world who cannot get an education and I believe it is one of the most important things you can possibly fight for. We are constantly scrutinized over our appearance for aesthetic and sexual reasons but education gives you the tools to be the best version of yourself in life. It doesn’t mean you have to become a professor or even go to university; it just means that when you decide what path you want to take you can choose based on what you are really passionate about. You don’t ever have to feel trapped.
6. What does Neon Moon's campaign #NeonMoonCelebrateYou mean to you?
I think a campaign celebrating women’s bodies rather than degrading them is just what we need right now. We are coming into a new age of plus size modelling and body confidence. I think it is the perfect time for it! There is definitely a debate going on now about how we see women’s bodies in the media, so we need to be reminded that nobody is worth more or less as a person because of what their body looks like.
What do you think of Essie's Q&A? Let us know your thoughts below!