You need to learn to love yourself truly and without apology.
I am a big believer in encouraging unconditional self love. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where “diet” was a dirty word. My mother, an ardent feminist, would regularly remind me that my self worth was not to be tied in with some arbitary number on a $10 scale. Flash forward to my late twenties and I still carry my mother’s sage advice with me into unflatteringly lit change rooms across Perth. She was the warm, comforting voice in the back of my head when I went up two sizes post high school, when i got targeted by tastless weightloss advertising on facebook, and when the people in my life decided they were suddenly qualified to dispense unsolicited weightloss advice.
But what about those women who don’t have people like my mom in their life? Who do those girls look to as a beacon of hope and support that being a certain size and weight is not the be all and end all of things? It’s no secret that women of colour have it hard on all fronts, especially in the beauty industry. When we are not being made to hate our features, our skin colour and hair textures we are having our bodies policed. This is why it is so important for there to be more variety in the pool of WoC models we are presented with. Because in order to normalize WoC bodies, we also need to address the myriad of shapes and sizes WoC bodies come in.
Enter Saucye West.
I first came across Saucye on Pinups of Color, a Facebook page that promotes WoC pinup models. From the moment I saw her beautiful smile and effortlessly sultry poses, I was starstruck! Here was a woman I needed to interview! And lucky for me she is just as grounded and down to earth as she is beautiful.
Midcentury Mermaid: Tell me a bit about you. Who is Saucye west?
Saucye West: I am a mother, a model and your favorite fat girl!
MM: What inspired you to become a pin up model?
SW: I have always loved pinup but I did not know that there was a whole subculture of women that actually did this. I met a model at a fashion show I attended last year named Cherry Delish. She is pinup royalty in California and she told me a little about what she does and I wanted in! I did my first pinup contest that year and I fell in love with the cars and the fact that it is a family environment. It was just awesome. And as far as modeling goes, pinup to me just embodies so much – It is the ultimate form of confidence and self love and there is no room for fake confidence.
MM: As a woman of colour and an aspiring pin up myself, i have found it extremely hard to break into the scene because of the limited opportunities for women of my ethnic background. Have you faced similar challenges when pursuing your passion?
SW: I haven’t been challenged in a rude way but it is hard to break into the circles. I have been trying to get into a pinup ladies group for a year and no one has wanted me. I am not cookie cutter pinup. I’m not a cookie cutter model! But just like in the fashion world I have to continue to try and break these barriers and one day seeing colour will not be a rarity.
MM: I love how you strongly advocate unconditional body acceptance and body love. Would you mind sharing your journey to self acceptance?
SW: As a young girl I was told that I should look a certain way by women in my family. The women in my family were very beautiful and their opinion meant a lot to me, I remember having an eating disorder till the age of 13. When I was found out I went to counseling and I remember being asked why don’t you like yourself. And I said I really don’t have a problem with how I look it’s everyone else that does. And from that moment no more counselling and no more eating disorder. I vowed that I would love myself unconditionally for the rest of my life no matter what size I was. YES! At 14! And I haven’t looked back
MM: Who inspires you to do what you do so well?
SW: All those little girls who are growing up in a world where they will be judged by how they look. I want to kill that perception. I want to be an ambassador. So that they have a real example of what beauty is. And that it comes in all shapes and colors and sizes. And that health does not mean that you have to be thin and that unhealthy does not equate to being fat! And that fat is not a bad word. And the fact that one of those little girls is my daughter and it is imperative that I am an example for her.
MM: It was not long ago that Tess Munster got signed to Milk model management. However, it is no surprise that there is still a distinct lack of black and ethnic plus size models. How do you feel Fat phobia/fat shaming and institutionalized racism is being tackled in the modelling and pin up world? How can things improve?
SW: I have received countless emails from supporters telling me that I am the next Tess and that there should be a WOC equivalent to Tess. I will not ever take anything away from Tess. While I was making babies she was hustling. I just started within the past few years taking what I do seriously. So my time will come. And if not me, there will be another beautiful brown size 28 model or larger, that will take the world by storm! I think I have seen the most fat phobic comments I havw received have come from other women of color. We bash one another so bad it’s scary. We are just not supportive of one another. There are designers who are plus size, who only use skinny models. Now that is crazy. Or they will put a size limit on a casting call. I have been to casting calls and killed it! But then i never get that call back because I am fat.
Now as far as pinup is concerned I have received a lot of love! There is a little bit of division but nothing I can’t handle. I think that the fashion world needs to just stop being so close minded. Beauty come in all sizes. There was a survey done and it said that most plus size women do not want to be plus size. Then I see women sending crazy mixed messages. One minute they say they love their fat bodies then the next talking about how much they hate their stomach and fat shaming on social media. Where is the consistent empowerment?!?!? We have to be positive or the war or fat phobia will never be over.
MM: What advice can you dispense to women of colour who want to venture into the world of plus size modelling?
SW: I can tell you the stuff you already know. work on your walk. Update your portfolio. But that is stuff you already know. So I’ll tell you the stuff that is not taught; Be professional! Social Media is a live resume. How you act and what you post can either make or break you from getting your next gig. And remember that you are a brand and act as such. I am a business. Being Saucye West is a business. I manage myself and it is important that I am seen in the best light. Whether you use me or not. AND most important don’t have faux confidence. It is important to truly love yourself without apology.
To keep up with all things Saucye West be sure to check out her social media links below: