how arizona expanded molly bair's horizons

Model and Philly native Molly Bair took time out from working to hit the road with her pal and fellow model Natalie Westling.

by Stuart Brumfitt
08 March 2016, 4:51pm

Model and Philly native Molly Bair took time out from working for the likes of Rick Owens, Moschino and Marc Jacobs to hit the road with her pal and fellow model Natalie Westling. For two girls who are used to having their every minute scheduled around shoots and shows, it was an open road opportunity to explore Natalie's home state of Arizona and to meet a variety of women along the way. As they went on a journey to find out what it means to be an American woman in 2016, Molly also discovered that she's a "star seed," has "a really, really, really strong energy" and that she loves Arizona.

What did you make of Natalie's home state, Arizona?
I really fell in love with Arizona. It's a very unique place because it has basically every type of landscape — forest, desert, mountains, red rock — all within one hour of each other. There's also a very relaxed vibe throughout the state, so you automatically feel more at ease when you're there. This is really different from where I grew up because Philadelphia has little nature besides the Susquehanna River, and for the most part, it's a very fast-paced city. You can feel the energy and stress flowing through the streets.

This video was a chance to travel in a way that you don't get to when you're modeling. How did that feel?
It was amazing to travel for pleasure. I wasn't stressed about my arrival or who was picking me up or where I was staying because I knew that I had the luxury of not having a set timetable. There're so many places I would love to go. I want to travel around the Japanese countryside, Egypt, Peru, New Zealand, Thailand, Greenland — the list goes on and on…

You say, "We never wear make-up and we both pretty much dress like dudes." Why do you love that style?
I love this style because it makes me feel comfortable and it makes me feel like I'm being myself. That's how your personal style should make you feel: a reflection of who you are when you can be yourself. My style was not always tomboyish. When I was little, I always dressed like a tomboy but when I was in middle school and the first half of high school, I decided to dress more girly. But that style never made me feel completely comfortable, so I went back to my roots.

What did you think the horse-riding beauty pageant queens made of you? One of them seems surprised you're a model -- their idea of beauty is seemingly more conventional, but did you find an understanding?
I think the pageant queens were very confused about us. They're used to a more "catalogue"-looking model, so they were sort of shocked when they saw us. Despite this, we had no problem getting along because they were unbelievably friendly and cool.

Their mentor is supportive on the one hand, but also has odd rules that they must adhere to, like, "If you're not careful with your footing, the fringe will go crazy, the judge's eyes will be attracted to it and that's something they'll notice"; "Your footwork is all over your place"; "You walk with a very wide stride. If you tone down your stride, you wouldn't hear your skirt hitting your boots." What did you make of that contrast of support and all that criticism/rules?
I grew up playing tons of sports so I'm really used to this kind of strict teaching system. I actually think this is the best way of growing stronger, because it makes you work harder for the teacher's approval.

The video was a chance to meet "other women who don't fit in -- just like us." How important is it to see and represent unconventional women? And why?
It's very comforting to see other women who are in a similar situation as yourself, because you can truly feel like you are not alone. The feeling of being in a community is unlike any other feeling.

The second lady thinks you are a star seed (10% of people on earth are star seeds -- "they gave up their life for a short time to be on Earth to help humanity.") What do you make of being a star seed? Is she right?
I don't believe in any alien conspiracies so I could not take her seriously at all. But if it makes her happy to believe in that, then of course I'm not going to get in the way of her happiness. But I can't participate in something I don't believe in.

You were a hostess in a grill, full of "creepy eyes." What was your weirdest waitressing experience?
I accidentally carded a 60-year-old man.

The last lady said, "You have a really, really, really strong energy." Can you tell us about your strong energy? You say you don't realize you have it, but can you see why she sees it?
I think that my "strong energy" comes from being a type of person who never quits. Through my experiences with sports, school, and in my career I have never given up.

You said you worry about what you'll major in at college. Are you definitely going to carry on studying? Any more ideas about what or where?
I am currently studying online in The New School in the Environmental Studies program.

What does it means to be a girl/woman in 2016?
The 2016 woman is unstoppable and determined.

Which women do you look up to in the industry?
I respect how Tyra Banks has used her intelligence and model status to create multiple successful businesses and franchises. I respect how Daria Werbowy has used her photography passion and model status to create projects for herself in the industry.

Which female designers do they think really understand your idea of womanhood?
Of course, I have to say Miuccia Prada. She wants the Prada woman to be strong and beautiful in their own way— whether it be with a lavish dress and a sleek suit.

Which female photographers do you love to work with?
I love Sarah Moon, Brianna Capozzi, and Harley Weir.

Which female stylists do you love to work with?
I love Patti Wilson, Katie Grand, Amanda Harlech, and Charlotte Stockdale and Katie Lyall of Chaos Fashion.

Can you describe Natalie in 3 words?
Tough redhead homie.

natalie westling
Molly Bair
international women's day
arizona women