Model Emily Nolan Says, “Real beauty starts with self-acceptance—loving yourself for who you are.”

Photographed by Jose Amigo

Emily Nolan was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia. She is represented by CLICK Model Management (NYC), Dorothy Combs Models, Modelogic Wilhelmina, and The Campbell Agency. Emily has one older brother, Matthew (27), and two younger half-brothers, Riley (14) and Corey (13). Emily grew up playing softball as a catcher at the highest levels of competition. She loves to take pictures, scrapbook, and bake. She describes herself as a “model, entrepreneur, vegan, animal lover, and athlete”.

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

How did you start your career as a model?

I was typecast as a character in a reality show in Washington, DC and I needed to send the production company headshots. Around the same time, one of my girlfriends convinced me to volunteer for a gig as a swimsuit model on the Fox morning news in DC for Saks Fifth Avenue. Coincidentally, Hilary Rhoda was being interviewed right before I went on. I was curious about how she got started, so I looked it up and discovered that she started at an event called ProScout. I went to ProScout’s weekend-long event, was called back by two big agencies, and the rest is history!

When people ask you to define the term ‘plus’ model, what do you tell them?

I am asked the question all the time, “What exactly is a plus size model?” My answer is simple; I jokingly respond that it’s any model bigger than a sample size 4 or 6. If they’re still curious, I just show them pictures of my beautiful curvy model friends. Most of my guy friends respond like, “Oh my Gosh, you know that girl? She’s your friend? Hook it up, Emily!”

Do you feel that ‘plus’ modeling is helping to redefine beauty?

People hear the word ‘plus’ and immediately assume the model is going to look like a whale and have five double chins. To our advantage, a lot of people don’t expect us to deliver beauty like straight models can, and when they see what we can produce; I think it shocks them…in a good way. It makes them think, “She’s a ‘plus’ model? She’s gorgeous!” 

In terms of your career as a model, what has been the best advice you have been given?

Every model, actress, or entertainer will tell you the same thing. Learn to take “No” in stride, believe in yourself, and work like the devil!

Photographed by Jose Amigo

Have you met someone in the industry that has had a significant impact on your life?

In the beginning of my career, I was called-back by an agent from Elite Miami and I was thrilled to pieces. I sucked it in and stood tall and the first thing she told me was that I should gain five pounds and be a plus size model; not exactly what I had expected, nor wanted, to hear. Needless to say, I was determined to stay in contact with her and keep her updated on my progress. I trained as a fit model for Silver Models in NYC for three to four months, and during my fifth month of training, I called the agent at Elite and told her I was ready to make the transition. She sent my pictures to Dorothy Combs in Miami and I was asked to contact her directly. I literally stepped off the train I took up to NYC to meet with Click’s plus division, and I got a call from Dorothy saying that she wanted to represent me. The next day, a well-known photographer that I had tested with called Click and scheduled a personal meeting for me, I walked out of Click’s office with a contract and a shot at self-employment! …If the agent at Elite had not been so honest with me, I think I would still be putting in excessive hours a day at the gym, shaping my body as a fit model.

Do you have a funny modeling story you would like to share with us?

Oh my gosh. My first casting ever was for a huge jeans company and they were paying a lot of money; I had no idea what to expect. I wore their brand of jeans to the casting to show that I was serious about working for them. I was so excited at the thought that the people at the casting would notice that I had done a significant amount of research on the company and had worn their brand of jeans, that when they did notice, I had what my Mom calls, the classic case of, “diarrhea of the mouth.” “Oh, I love these jeans! I wear them all the time! They’re so comfortable and fit my curves in all the right places. My Mom loves them, and my Grandma wishes they’d fit her…” and so on. I seriously die laughing every time I think about that casting. Good thing I’m a fast learner!

Have you ever suffered from body image or self-esteem issues? If so, what advice would you give to young girls and women who are currently struggling?

Oh, totally. Listen, sister. We’re just like fruits and vegetables. We all grow differently. Some of us are bigger and some are smaller. Some of us are plump and juicy, and others are small and tasty. It’s just the way God made us. Unfortunately, the way media depicts the “perfect woman” only accounts for a small percentage of the many beautiful, healthy bodies in this world. As cheesy as it sounds, you really want someone to love you for who you are. One of the most important confident building tricks that I learned from Nigel Barker was to find something about you that you really love, and flaunt it, sister! In my case, I really love my blue eyes, and they’ll never change with my size or age. A mani-pedi always helps, too!

What kinds of pressures do you see the girls in your life facing these days? What can we, as mentors, do to better address these issues?

Unfortunately, I see a lot of my girlfriends in the industry, who are naturally thin, hear that they’re not thin enough: the industry wants their women to be impossibly thin, and almost the only way women can attain that body is through food deprivation and disordered eating. In a perfect world, models, agents, and clients would stand up for a healthy body image. Until that day, the most important thing we have as models and role models is a voice. As my great-grandparents would say, “Sister, if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say it!” Alternatively, if you have something good to say, let the world hear it!

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

Who taught you about real beauty?

For the most part, my Grandma and my Mom. I also have some very good friends who have such beautiful souls, that no matter the amount of makeup or labels they wear, they are truly magnetic beauties with unforgettable personalities. Real beauty starts with self-acceptance—loving yourself for who you are.

What do you wish you would have known at the age of 13?

Old Navy Performance Fleeces do go out of style. But, in all seriousness, I’d probably wish I had known I would kiss a lot of good-looking frogs before I found my Prince. And, that I’d grow up to be a model, and more importantly, a role model.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My Grandparents. They were born during the Great Depression and grew up with very few “extra” things, which we’re all so use to having nowadays. They raised my family to be compassionate and caring, and above all, appreciate the many opportunities we’re given to work hard, excel, and live the American dream. The most important lesson I’ve learned from them: Family first.

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m superstitious. My left shoe always goes on first. I make my bed the same way every morning. I always drive the same route when I’m going somewhere. The list goes on…

Photographed by Jose Amigo

My beauty essentials are…

Clean, moisturized skin and a beautiful smile. If I’m wearing makeup, it’s usually a little bit of Smashbox HD bronzer or powder (to control the shine of my moisturizer), Smashbox blush in Chiffon or Flush (depending on the season), and I like to curl my eyelashes. I really like the natural look, but if I do wear mascara, it’s Dior Show. A girlfriend of mine is introducing me to a vegan, chemical-free makeup line sold in DC, and I’m really looking forward to making the switch—her skin is so radiant and beautiful.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Murad Moisturing and Age Reforming lip gloss, everyday, all day. Smashbox’s nude lip liner in Fair and lipstick in Flawless for a nicer, more naturally defined look.

What is your go-to outfit?

Ha! I love this question. I love my Nike’s, fitted Under Armor sweatpants, and a cute workout tank top. I am such a tomboy at heart. When I go out with friends, I’ll wear skinny jeans, a cute top, and some fun heels. For some reason, guys can’t resist a simple woman who looks great in jeans in a tank top…it’s definitely an equation that works for me.

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

I’m a big fan of my Marc Jacobs jeggings. I also really like J Brand’s new pencil leg jeans, too; my favorite color is in venom because they look a lot like leather, and they’re animal friendly. Both pairs of jeans fit true to size, are slightly stretchy, and long enough! If I’m just casually running around town, I like my Levi’s Curve ID jeans—they’re affordable, comfortable, and they look good!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I love to shop at designer discount stores, like Loehmann’s, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack, and Off Saks Fifth Avenue. There’s something about going through the racks and finding that one gem that no one else has found. I found my first Halston dress at Loehmann’s buried in the clearance racks. The original price was marked at $4,500 and got it for maybe $300. That purchase gave me lifetime bragging rights–I am the queen of good deals.

Photographed byJennifer Domenick

Being an athlete, you have a passion for fitness. How do you stay fit?

I love to work out. I try to run five times a week and lift weights three to five times a week. It’s important that I look curvy and healthy. It sends the message that this is my healthy size; this is the way my body is meant to look.

What does being healthy mean to you?

To me, healthy is about a balance. Eat right, treat your body like a temple, work hard, and get your rest. Appreciate your family, be compassionate, laugh a lot, and listen to your heart.

Would you please tell us how long you have been a vegan, why you made that healthful choice for you, and how it makes you feel?

I’ve been a vegan for about a year now. My Mom bought the book, The China Study, for literally, my entire family. She must have bought fifteen copies of it and made us all read it. The book talks about people’s predispositions to diseases and cancers, and how we can prevent the development of those diseases by a vegan diet and good exercise. It’s a real matter of fact book, I really am glad my mom made such a big stink about it.

Healthful reasons aside, I am the biggest animal lover on the planet. I have rescued a countless number of animals, including my mixed Black Lab, Dorey. I even convinced my Grandparents at a young age, that the stray cats living in our back yard were good luck and that we needed to keep them. I have such an immense love for animals and I’m very passionate about advocating for their humane treatment.

I shot with a photographer once who asked me if I knew why the leather in luxury cars was so supple and soft. He proceeded to answer his question and said that it was because the leather was from unborn fetuses—the skin of baby calves that had never seen the sun. Doesn’t it just make your little heart break to know that, not by choice, some animal has to give up their little baby at our own consumer’s expense?

What would we find in your refrigerator?

Mind you, everything that I eat is vegan and gluten free. I wash, chop, and store my fresh fruit and veggies as soon as I bring them home from the store; it really aids in making make healthy choices when you reach for something to satisfy your hunger. I try to eat a very raw diet, when I can, so you’ll find almost every in-season fruit and veggie (a lot of which comes from my older brother’s organic farm) in my fridge. You’d also find soy milk, coconut milk, carrot juice, orange juice, hummus, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, celery, eggplant, peppers, asparagus, veggie-burgers, brown rice bread, Daiya cheese, and leftovers from the local vegan restaurant. I keep frozen fruit in my freezer for fresh fruit smoothies.

In my pantry, I’ve got raw almond butter, as well as raw coconut butter, peanut butter, every type of seed, Go Raw energy bars, every type of raw nut, dried fruit, cereal, blue tortilla chips, my favorite chocolate chip cookie, and brownie box mixes. I’ve always got an extra bag of Enjoy Life’s mini chocolate chips lying around too. Several winter’s ago, my Mom and Step-dad surprised me with a Lello Italian gelato maker because I love to make my own ice cream. My favorite flavor so far is chocolate, and my secret is to add a pinch of salt to the recipe. I just made a pumpkin pie ice cream that’s a close second to my chocolate.

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I own every inch of my body and my personality. I know that confidence is the key to attractiveness.

In my purse you would find…

Ipod. Murad Age Reforming lip gloss. Louis Vuitton wallet. Essie apricot cuticle oil. Burt’s Bees almond milk hand salve. Face towels for the gym. Hand sanitizer. A Fuji apple and a water bottle.

How would you describe your style?

Comfortably sexy.

Favorite book?

Oh gosh, I love to read. The China Study has most definitely influenced my life more than any other book. Most of my reading though, are books about business; certainly an enjoyment of mine that was passed down from my Grandfather.

Celebrity Crush…

Mario Lopez. Hugh Jackman…oh Lawd!

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

I’m not much of an online shopper so when I’m online, I’m usually on Facebook, vegan/ eco-luxury lifestyle sites, as well as any sites or blogs dealing with news in the modeling industry (especially if it’s plus related).

Photographed by Rick Day

What is your philosophy?

Do what you do: If you’re good at something and you enjoy it, pour your heart and soul into it, give it everything you’ve got. Stand up for what you believe in and always, always, always listen to your gut…and your mother! =)

On a day off, what would your perfect day consist of?

Wake up without an alarm, go for a nice run, throw a swimsuit on, and go out on the boat with my family and friends. I’ve also lived the whole fantasy of being alone on an exotic beach under an umbrella with a good book where hot cabana boys are at my service…that doesn’t seem like such a bad “perfect day” either.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

Being the first one picked for any sports during recess. I was the kickball queen. I was also the only girl on my block, growing up with a bunch of boys: While most girls were learning how to kiss boys and apply makeup, I was learning how to check boys with my hockey stick on roller blades. Needless to say, my parents never had to worry about, “beating the boys off with a baseball bat.”

What are you excited about right now?

Oh goodness. I’m fairly young in the plus industry, so it’s really exciting for me when I get to meet all of the stunningly beautiful women who have pioneered the plus movement. Cindy Lauper once said that you should never meet someone that you idolize because you’ll only be disappointed; I doubt that I’d ever regret meeting Emme, or Brooke Shields for that matter.

*Thank you, Emily, for everything you do and for being one of our strongest supporters!

* You can find out more about Emily at http://mlestyle.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706953358#!/pages/Emily-Nolan/149048695137826

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24 Responses to “Model Emily Nolan Says, “Real beauty starts with self-acceptance—loving yourself for who you are.””

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  22. Emily is GORGEOUS! I love you em and I’m SOOO proud of you!
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  23. Thank YOU ladies!!! You have the kindest hearts and you have truly touched me from the moment we “met.” Love love LOVE you.

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