paloma elsesser is all about being the best version of yourself
We catch up with the body positive pioneer to talk Paris, Pat McGrath and the power of social media
At 23 years of age, Paloma oozes a kind of feminine allure and body confidence that most girls can only dream of, but it hasn't always been this way. Growing up in predominantly white private schools, surrounded by naturally thin girls with blonde hair and blue eyes, was very alienating for Paloma, whose beautiful curves and dark features set her apart from her peers. Even her teachers ostracised her by forcing her to wear a bra before anybody else in her class had to. Pressured by these prescribed notions of beauty, and having moved from LA to the fast paced city of New York, Paloma got caught up in the never-ending rat race of youth, which ultimatey led to her taking a small time out.
These days Paloma is studying for a degree in psychology and literature, while modelling on the side. Recently she was cast alongside beauties Bella Hadid and Imaan Hammam, in legendary make-up artist, Pat McGrath's Golden Makeover series, which debuted during Paris Fashion Week. With over 29,000 followers on Instagram, Paloma is also being lauded as a role model for young girls to look up to. After all, Paloma is living proof that you don't have to conform to skinny ideals to be beautiful and sets an example that we should all be following. Let's hope there will be many more lie her!
Growing up how did you feel about your self-image?
I had wavering moments. Parts of growing up were intensely isolating and some parts were full of confidence. The majority of it was spent feeling different.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
Did moving to New York change you?
Moving anywhere in early adulthood will change you. New York grounded my spirit and independence. I'm grateful for it.
Where do you get your body confidence from?
I don't think I got it from anyone or anything in particular. I think I learned to accept and appreciate my body by seeing and experiencing the damage that self-hatred will have on someone.
Why do you think you have such a large social media following?
I think a lot of girls identify with me. I try to portray myself as authentically as possible.
Do you think of yourself as a role model?
I wouldn't call myself a role model but I'm okay with someone else dubbing me as one.
Have you ever been discriminated against because of how you looked?
Yes, for some reason, people assume I'm uneducated or ignorant. They assume that I like to fight or something? It's really disturbing because I am none of the above.
What does femininity mean to you?
How does social media shape our understanding of beauty?
There are pros and cons… social media allows us to experience endless types of beauty. However, some people don't recognise how curated it is, people think that what is shown on social media is really that person in their entirety. It isn't.
What was it like working with Pat McGrath for her Golden Makeover series?
Incredible. Pat and her team are a rare group of people in this industry. Courageous, creative, and compassionate. I love them very much. It's been the highlight of my career!
What advice would you give to young girls hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Find what feels right and run with it.
Photography Chandler Kennedy