Australian beauty Melissa Valensise talks plus size modelling, summer looks and the secrets to her full hair!
Societies desire to be skinny has reached new heights with the recent social media fads of thigh gaps, juice cleanses and the all new belly button challenge. However in the background the plus size modelling industry is about to take the fashion world by storm redefining beauty ideals.
Green eyed beauty Melissa Valensise, signed with BGM Models and Gina Stoj Management for acting, is an eye catcher with her bubbly persona, luscious locks and flawless photoshoots. Melissa offers an insight into the plus size modelling industry and her style tips and tricks.
How did you get into the world of modeling?
I did lots of acting & straight size modelling from age 6 until 18 and at that point I guess I felt the need to venture out into the world and give something else a go. I studied Business and majored in Marketing & Public Relations then at 20 decided I wanted to move to London to live and work there. With my Italian background I have an Italian passport which meant I could work there for any length of time and getting a job was easy. I landed a job in fashion recruitment where some of my biggest clients were Burberry, Top Shop and the big department stores such as Selfridges and Harrods. I returned 2 years later and really felt the desire to approach Darrianne from BGM Models because they were the first plus size modeling agency in Sydney and I knew if I was to pursue modelling, it would have to be in the curvy industry being a size 10-12. Darrianne wanted to sign me straight away but I backed out. I had been successful in my younger years and I think I was fearful of failure as an adult which was bizarre for someone who moved countries at 20 years old! Then at 26 I knew I would live to regret not giving it a go, so I approached Darrianne again and told her I was ready for it! I did my test shoot straight away and was on the books!
Do you consider yourself a plus sized model?
For the purpose of the modelling industry, yes. As much as I don’t like to admit it, there is that division in the modelling world and I feel women need to find the confidence within themselves to accept it for what it is, and not take it as an insult or judgement. However I appreciate that we have a long way to go in educating women that they are really just only words, and they should not let words define them. So as I said for the purpose of the modelling industry I consider myself a plus size model but in the real world, I do not consider myself plus size at all. I consider myself a healthy woman with natural curves.
In regards to the plus-sized industry, what are the aspects you love about it? What are some aspects that you don’t about the industry?
I feel like there is a stronger market for those who are size 14+ and a smaller market for my size which ranges between a size 10-12 depending on the brand. My concern is that if young girls and women look at me and based on “my title” feel I am “plus size”, I worry that they may develop insecurities within themselves seeing a healthy woman be deemed plus size. At the same time, I love the plus size industry for acknowledging body diversity and for encouraging designers/brands to give many women, someone they can relate to.
It’s known that models are often asked to look a certain way or lose weight. Have agencies, designer or magazines asked that of you?
Never. And I am so grateful for that! I believe it has something to do with the fact that I am comfortable and confident with myself, and for that reason it comes across in my persona so I feel it gives others confidence in who I am and because of that I feel accepted the way I am. Having said that, I am under no illusion that there must have been times where I have been unsuccessful in a casting because I have either been too small or too big to fit the brief.
Who is your style icon and why?
Jennifer Aniston because she always looks effortlessly gorgeous. Her style is consistent whether she is glammed up for the Oscars or snapped at a cafe having breakfast. Also, Kim Kardashian because she has curves and isn’t afraid to show them off. To me, she always has the WOW factor & regardless of what people’s opinion are of her, there’s no denying she more often than not, gets it right!
What designer would you love to model for most?
Zuhair Murad. He has a signature style and I love how he knows the balance between sexy and elegant.
What is your must have summer accessory?
The Maxi Dress! I always feel very feminine wearing and I love being able to dress it up with heels and accessories or leave it casual with a cute pair of flats! I think the maxi works for all shapes and sizes too.
Your hair is wonderful, very shiny and full! What is your secret?
I eat well, ensuring I consume protein with every meal, alongside salad and/or vegetables. I also take good quality essential fatty acids such as evening primrose oil and Chinese herbs which have been recommended to me by a wonderful Naturopath I see here in Sydney. Many women suffer from low iron and/or thyroid and other hormonal imbalances. I suggest having these levels checked because if these aren’t functionally optimally then it doesn’t matter if you do all of the above, your hair won’t grow as well as it should. I also only wash my hair 3 times per week at most and since doing that, I have noticed over time that my hair has started producing less oil. To get away with leaving my hair longer in between washes I use dry shampoo. And let’s not forget that sometimes, depending on what look I am going for or what I am shooting for, the addition of a few clip in hair extensions always help!
What do you think MODELLIST-iD can do for the model community?
I believes modellist-id gives models a network to refer to and a community to be a part of. Sometimes modelling can be lonely with traveling and often being without loved ones for extended periods of time. Knowing we can read experiences from other models is comforting and there’s always great advice to be heard as there are always new things to learn and interesting people to learn from.