a lesson on beauty with molly constable
The body image activist and curve model meditates on the pressure to be perfect.
Photography Heather Hazzan
This article was originally published by i-D UK.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Molly Constable is carving out a name for herself as one to watch in the fashion industry. Brown-haired, blued-eyed, busom, and beautiful, she’s a force to be reckoned with. Discovered on Instagram in 2012, the first editorial she booked was for the CR Fashion Book, shot by none other than Tom Ford, and since then she’s worked with some of the industry’s finest photographers from Tim Walker to Alasdair McLellan. A fierce body image activist, over the years Molly has been known to speak out about discrimination she's faced, particularly from make-up artists who in the past have made condescending comments about her stretch marks. Tearing up the rule book once more when it comes to normative standards of beauty, she recently starred in a beautifully raw, captivatingly real editorial for Playboy, shot by Heather Hazzan. Here she shares a powerful message on beauty.
"I first started wearing make-up when I was 14 years old. Some of my friends had older sisters so they were into make-up by then. They all wore the wrong shade of foundation and caked it on, so naturally I followed suit. My skin was probably orange for the rest of my high school experience. I also didn’t know how to apply eyeshadow either, but I really wanted to wear it. I would beg my mum to buy me eye-shadow palettes and I would apply as much as I possibly could on my eyes. I’d blend it so that it would be really dark on one side of my eyelid and then nothing on the other side. When I finally realized I wasn’t applying anything correctly, it made me just as insecure as I felt when I wasn’t wearing makeup.
As a kid, my mum and grandmother always made sure to tell me how beautiful I was, but I grew up running around in the woods and playing in the mud. Feeling beautiful wasn’t as important as being a kid. It was in my teenage years that I realized people didn’t think I was beautiful. People thought I was really weird looking, I didn’t see it see it at the time, but that’s the power of words: they make you see things that aren’t there.
“As I got older, however, I started to surround myself with positive, uplifting people who encouraged me to embrace myself and be whoever I wanted to be that day.”
Throughout my teenage years, I would always worry about not being creative enough, or smart enough. I didn’t really have much confidence. To add to that, I was becoming a woman a lot quicker than the other girls in school. No one really cared that I was the funniest, loudest person in the room. It only mattered if you had a perfect smile, perfect body and blonde hair. I never thought I was as beautiful as my friends.
For a long time I had a very unhealthy relationship with myself. As I got older, however, I started to surround myself with positive, uplifting people who encouraged me to embrace myself and be whoever I wanted to be that day. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to remind yourself how smart and great you are. But I grew to learn that loving yourself is actually vital. Picking yourself apart won’t make you confident or prettier. The more you embrace yourself, the more it will help you build relationship with others.
Five years ago, when hashtags became a thing on Instagram, I was browsing through them while cleaning up the miniature golf course where I worked. Somewhere along the way I liked a random photo, which it turned out my now mother agency had posted. They saw that I had liked their photo and obviously looked at my profile, and reached out to me on the most CRINGE selfie and wanted to know if I was a model. (I wasn’t). So they sent me to meet with Ford in NYC.
I’ve learnt a lot about beauty from working in the industry. At first I didn’t understand it; I didn’t know why I had to wear a full face of make-up with eyelashes so heavy I couldn’t open my eyes on set. I knew nothing about this world. I thought the women in magazines were always this glowing and shiny. It turns out that’s not the case. That’s when I realized looks are not the root of beauty. Beauty comes from inside.
Though I’ve grown a lot, I still feel insecure about myself everyday. This industry is very superficial and I believe it takes a certain type of hero to not feel insecure when someone is constantly staring at your face or your body, telling you to change in front of a room full of men when that morning you wanted to die because you woke up bloated. The pressure to be perfect keeps that insecurity lingering.
“Find what makes you feel the most at home with yourself and run with it.”
Today I feel most beautiful when my mental space is at 100%, when I’m not looking in the mirror and convincing myself I’m ugly, when I’m not pinching my fat or lifting my boob to see how I’d look if I was skinnier. Everyone goes through this, though. I think the important thing is not to be afraid of yourself. Whether you have big boobs and no body, whether you have a stick thin figure or if you’re shaped like a ball, you are fucking beautiful. Maybe sometimes you don’t feel it on the outside, but you have it on the inside. People may not remind you everyday but you will be always your own cheerleader. Find what makes you feel the most at home with yourself and run with it.
Moving forwards I hope that as an industry we can continue to build each other up and build a new sense of beauty. Every single person deserves to feel loved and feel beautiful and as a model I believe it is this industry’s job to remind everyone that it’s not always what’s on the outside that makes you beautiful.
Molly Constable is signed to MiLK Management
Photography Heather Hazzan