what natalie westling learned on her arizona road trip

Natalie Westling hit the open roads of Arizona with her good pal Molly Bair. As the pair cross the flat lands, gorges, mountains and canyons of Natalie’s home state, they come across everyone from cowgirls-cum-beauty-queens to hippy mystics and find...

by Stuart Brumfitt
08 March 2016, 4:47pm

Major model Natalie Westling took time out of her schedule modeling for the likes of Prada, Céline and McQueen to hit the open roads of Arizona with her good pal -- and fellow model -- Molly Bair. As the pair cross the flat lands, gorges, mountains and canyons of Natalie's home state, they come across everyone from cowgirls-cum-beauty-queens to hippy mystics and find out what it means to be an American woman in 2016. We in turn discover that Natalie "excelled in lunch" at school, that she wants to work with dead bodies, and that skateboarding is her yoga.

You took Molly to check out your home state of Arizona. How was it seeing it through her eyes?
It's always funny to see the place you're from through another person's eyes. It's almost like watching a movie you already know by heart, but from a second perspective -- it looks the same, but different. Molly started saying how she would love to bring her family out to Arizona one day, and I guess I just felt more appreciative of being from such a great place.

Would you say you're a tomboy and dress like a dude? What is it you love about that look?
I wouldn't say I'm anything really. I'm just the way I've always been and pretty much roll in what I like. I know that might sound cliché or whatever, but it's not much more complicated than that. It doesn't bother me that people think of me that way, though.

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 really great to be a part of actually deciding where to go. Usually with modeling, you're sort of sent all over the place according to your schedule, and I enjoyed being able to choose for once. I really want to go to Australia, and I'm actually going to Hawaii for work soon -- that's somewhere I've always wanted to visit. I love spending time in California, which isn't so far from Arizona and just a place where I always feel good. I'd like to spend more time out there whenever I can.

You're speaking with women who are doing things differently, but can today's American woman really be anything she wants to be?
Most definitely. Depending on what area you grow up in, there may be some more restrictive parts of local culture for women. But if we are talking about America, the country as a whole, then yeah, for sure!

The second lady in the film says you have Pleiadian (Nordic alien) energy. What do you make of that? Do you know what she was getting at?
Haha, well she explained it to me as something meaning that I'm a good-hearted person with cute, doll-like features. I ain't mad at that!

You say if you weren't a model you would be "living a horrible life and going to school." Did you hate school that much? Are you happier with your new modeling life?
It's not that I hated school as much as that. I hated being trapped by a lifestyle that was really dictated. When you're in school, you are made to go to the same place everyday and see the same people everyday and spin in this hamster wheel that they call the educational system. I love to learn, but I would rather learn about things that I personally find interesting. You also have more of a chance to figure yourself out when you're traveling for work and meeting tons of new people. I just don't think I would flourish in a more structured career choice. It doesn't interest me.

You say "I excelled in lunch." What was your favorite school lunch?
Yeah, I definitely excelled at lunch. It was the chill time. My mother made the best lunches -- a favorite was her salami and pepperoni sandwiches.

You say if you'd studied more, you would have done biology, so that you could work with dead people and find out how they died. Are you a macabre person?
I don't know why people always find that interest so surprising. I don't think of it as horror or dark. I guess I just don't have the same fear of death like others. Everyone has a story to tell, and to be a part of finding out the end of their story is kind of amazing. It fascinates me.

What was the best thing about working in a skate shop?
I always loved seeing the little kids come in and get so thrilled about everything skate. It has been a part of my life since I was three, so I always enjoyed their passion that reminded me of my younger years. I'm still young, but not that young, like four or five! It was a super chill place to work, though. Putting boards together all day and just hanging out.

What do you love most about skating?
Skating is just my thing. It's my meditation or yoga or whatever other people do to get that feeling. I can be skating for hours and lose all sense of time.

The bikers hope that "women take over the world." What do you think a world run by women would be like?
I think it's a fun idea in theory, but in all fairness, an extreme of estrogen would probably not be much better than the testosterone that's been in power for so long. Balance is definitely key.

The last lady in the film says, "You have a very highly beautifully developed heart chakra….sweet kind person," adding, "Your heart energy is just yummy." How did that make you feel? Just how sweet are you?
It made me feel good. My mom always told me that I had a heart bigger than my body, but she's my mom! It's good to know that it's something that comes across to people I'm with or around.

You admit that you're struggling to find something that will make your heart sing. Any ideas what that might be, skating aside?
Isn't everybody though? Who can really say their heart is playing some amazing symphony at all times? Being on set with an incredible team and creating things that everyone is so passionate about is definitely on that list though. There are a few people in this business that I have that special something with, and when we work together it's just everything.

What does it means to be a girl/woman in 2016?
That's a great question. Maybe in the '50s someone could answer that question with a simple answer, but today it means so many different things. Today women can play roles in the work place or wherever that were only given to men before. But there are still a bunch of places in the world where progress hasn't been made, so it depends on where you have in mind when you ask that question I guess. I like to think a woman today is anything she damn well wants to be.

Which women do you look up to in the industry?
I really like Sarah Burton. I like her spirit. She's so mothering and hardworking and manages to play business and mom all at the same time really well. Same with Inez [van Lamsweerde]. And Katie Grand, of course. She gave me my first chance and I've always been in awe of her superpower focus! It pretty much radiates off of her.

Which female designers do you think really understand your idea of womanhood?
Sarah Burton, Phoebe Philo, Miuccia Prada!

Which female photographers do you love to work with?
Inez, hands down.

Which female stylists do you love to work with?
Grace Coddington, Katie Grand and Charlotte Stockdale are at the top of my list for sure.

Can you describe Molly in three words?
Clever with words.

natalie westling
Molly Bair
road trip
arizona women