betsy teske has made history as the first curve model to walk for alexander mcqueen
Fresh from making her Paris Fashion Week debut this season, here the beautiful blonde bombshell talks body image, size and self-acceptance.
Photography Mitchell Sams
Earlier this month, 20-year-old Dutch model and aspiring lawyer Betsy Teske made headlines when she appeared on the catwalk for Alexander McQueen during Paris Fashion Week. As the first curve model to do so, not only was Betsy shattering societal norms of what it means to be beautiful, and low key making fashion history in the process, she was also sticking two fingers up to the childhood bullies who told her she was too fat to be a model. An inspiration to us all, and an example of what happens when you don't let anything get in the way of following your dreams, here she shares her story and has a powerful message for all those who've ever been made to feel less than beautiful.
As a kid I never felt very beautiful… Growing up, the biggest challenge I faced was being insecure about my body. I was bullied quite a lot about my weight at school by peers but also by my teacher.
I always wanted to be a model… But I thought I couldn't be one because I had been told by bullies I was too big. Then I discovered that modelling wasn't just for petite girls and I decided to mail different curvy agencies and that is how I found my model agency in the Netherlands. We made a portfolio and sent it to my agency in London, which they seemed to like. That's where my career really took off, as the curvy market in London is way larger than in the Netherlands.
Modelling for me is fun… It's like acting, you have to express different emotions and it makes me feel really confident. Some people find that odd but I love celebrating my curves, they are a part of happy, healthy me!
My career highlight so far is… definitely being the first curvy model ever to set foot at Paris Fashion Week for Alexander McQueen. It was such a blast and everyone was so incredibly nice to me! I loved working with such talented people.
I think the older you get the more confident you becomes… Over time I have grown to like my body instead of hating it. Of course I have some slip-ups now and then, but I am growing more and more!
Today I feel most beautiful when… I am on set and when I wear clothes that really fit me. Beauty to me is being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. I eat vegan food and I cycle, and I try to eat loads of greens and veggies every day, but if I 'miss' a day and go for vegan junk food instead, that doesn't mean I am not beautiful. You can have a treat once in a while!
I want to be a role model… I want to inspire girls who are going through rough times because they are too 'big', even though they are just healthy-sized! I want to tell them that they are beautiful, and not just to say that. You don't have to diet to feel accepted. Seeing that myself helped me overcome my fears but I wish I'd realised sooner.
Diversity is not just a trend… I think curves are here to stay. If it goes away again I think the public won't be happy.
Terms like "plus size" and "inbetweenie" don't bother me... Yes I am bigger than straight sizes. And I am in-between straight and curve. I don't have negative thoughts about the terms myself. It's just the size I am, so it doesn't hurt me.
In terms of the fashion industry, moving forwards I'd like to see… More diversity and acceptance of that diversity.
One day I hope to… be able to do Victoria's Secret show, but I know that's a long stretch. I also want to finish my law study and inspire young girls and boys to be themselves.
Betsy Teske is signed to Milk Management.