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"You're so pretty, you should be a model."

Updated: Apr 16

Even as we age, grow, and mature, I believe that the youngest and most vulnerable parts of us always exist deep within. You can picture it similar to the layers of an onion. New experiences and passing time build new layers on top of previous versions of ourselves. An onion, crookedly bulging out of the ground covered in manure, is definitely not the most visually appealing when growing next to a garden’s bright flowers and picturesque tomato plants (you know the ones that would totally look aesthetically pleasing on your Instagram story). But, I would like to argue onions are, nevertheless, the most inspiring of all produce–according to my definition of beauty. 


Woman sitting in chair modeling

Growing up, I was a shy girl who timidly worked up the courage, dipping her toe into the beauty industry because someone else saw the beauty she simply didn’t see in the mirror. “You should be a model”, said yet another stranger at the grocery store.


“Why? Models are supposed to be pretty,” I thought instinctively. 


At times, the modeling industry almost crushed that timid girl, but never fully. Somewhere along the line, that layer of personal insecurity became the foundation for a rebelliousness to the beauty standard. Instead of crushing me, modeling folded on layers of boldness and authenticity, and lit a fire to bravely pursue my individuality. Now, as a layered woman, model, and educator, I can tell you: if you’re blossoming from the inside out and unabashedly accepting all the parts of yourself... I promise you will not only find your beauty, but you will create it and subsequently own it. Owning your beauty and not swaying your definition to what society says is the most liberating act of self-love one can practice.


Though I am a professional model who is more than comfortable in front of a camera and an educator who stands poised in front of a crowd, little Angelique was the complete opposite. Through high school, I encountered bits of confidence while playing sports and excelling academically. But it wasn’t until I went off to college that I had space to blossom exponentially, developing more personally meaningful layers of my creativity, communication skills, and a previously uncharted passion for nature. At The Ohio State University, I joined the Mountaineers Club. I felt insanely awkward on our group excursions, but I found peace in the outdoors. I signed my first modeling agency; I felt stiff on set as I tried to hide how mortified I was, but my skin toughened and my reflection looked beautiful for the first time in my life. In the same season, I changed my major to Health & Rehabilitation Sciences; I burned with a desire to change the commonplace approach to health and wellness, but I didn’t know how. 


Woman sitting on stack of clothes

It was unnerving to navigate new layers contradicting who I had been previously. Do I still look dorky? Or do I look stunning walking down this runway? As I imagined the future, my past self even further contradicted who I was gaining the confidence to become. Will I be capable of being a leader, a changemaker? Or is the shyness in me going to rise one day and stay? But as I embraced my many onion layers, I gained a sort of freedom to just be however I was in the moment. I embodied acceptance of all parts of myself and I unlocked a deep-seated, self-sustaining confidence in my college years - all thanks to leaving my zone of comfort one shaky step at a time. I am so grateful I took those steps because it led me to live in my purpose. Pushing through discomfort had placed me in a position to forget about everything else and just be me - all of me.


As a model, I come face to face with the beauty standard and fashion trends vs. personal style and individuality as part of my job.


As a science nerd and nature lover, I walk the line between modern medicine and natural homeopathic healing practices. As an educator, I want to provide as much information as possible without giving away the answers that each person needs to internally discover to step into their uniqueness.Ironically, by wearing all these hats professionally I created a space where I can express all the layers of the woman I am. My style is a special creative outlet for me where I can stand out confidently and comfortably while sparking important everyday conversations about fashion. Growing up, we don’t always have autonomy over what we wear. Our parents and caretakers buy our clothes and tell us what is appropriate for each occasion. In my case, I wore a uniform from kindergarten through high school. When I got to college, I had a job and a little spending money. Being on a budget and wanting to dress differently than I ever had before, I found myself in thrift stores around campus. As our passions grow, they have an increasingly heavy influence on the decisions we make.


With modeling, wellness, and nature at the center of my world, I was determined to align my college student budget with the looks that boosted my confidence and were mindful of our planet’s resources. It is so important for us to “look good, feel good” and I think we have all had a moment where our soul felt amazing and we realized it was because we knew, without a doubt, we looked good. 


Woman modeling wearing a white shirt

Looking good does something good for our souls.


How many times have we had a level of guilt about looking good, though? Or about spending money on ourselves to look good? How many times have we second-guessed that red lip because we don’t want to seem conceited or “too much”?


As my love for nature grew, so did my guilt about supporting mass-manufactured brands. I remember being in a thrift store in college and thinking, “Where are they getting all of these clothes?” Then I was on set in a warehouse full of mass-manufactured clothes helping to model and sell all of it. I realized the connection between the two. And, on top of the difficult feelings we face when we try to feel beautiful, I felt a sense of shame for being so involved in the fast fashion industry. I didn’t know where I stood in it all; I didn’t feel grounded. What I do know is that when I wear thrifted clothes, not only does it help my budget, it helps our planet and my creative spirit. By choosing my place in the fashion cycle and standards of beauty, I just kind of let go of it all and allowed myself to be a perfectly imperfect part of the system.


I don’t mind dressing differently than other people. After all, the deepest layers of myself had plenty of experience feeling like the odd one out. As someone who became a model when I didn’t even think I was beautiful, I know how hollowing it can be to be told you have the aesthetic on the outside but not even believe it from within. 


If I could only have one or the other, I would choose that inner beauty over outer every time.


I choose to love all of my invisible, seemingly undesirable layers (as per society's standards). Because I’d rather be that layered onion covered in dirt, beautifully intricate, and full of depth than be a pretty flower sitting in someone else’s vase for the aesthetic alone.


 

Written by Angelique Allen, photographed by The Rare Wav with Creative Director Brianna Thompson. 


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