Joan Smalls is defying the model stereotype in more ways than one. Not only is the Puerto Rican beauty on a mission to open the door for more women of color in the industry, she's also more business-savvy — and less afraid of food! — than your average model.
In a new interview with Glamour, Smalls talks about embracing her slender body type (not easy for someone who grew up in a community that loves its women with curves) and opens up about Maxim's gaffe accidentally referring to her as Brazilian stunner Lais Ribeiro, explaining why she sees it as more than just an honest mistake.
Despite the industry she's in, Smalls says she's always wanted more meat on her bones. "Of course. Everyone does, especially when you’re younger and guys don’t like you because you’re flat-chested and have skinny legs," she says. "I would double up my socks so my calves looked bigger. But around junior high school, my attitude changed. I was like, It is what it is."
Being a model hasn't changed her approach to food, either. "I don’t diet. I’m Puerto Rican! You can never take my rice, pork, and beans away," she says. "Plus, I love to cook. I’m one of those people who stay in the kitchen standing while everything is cooking, checking on everything. I picked that up from my grandmother. So yeah, I’m still going to indulge. I just do the extra 10 minutes at the gym. I’ve been boxing since college."
That isn't the only model trend she's trying to change. Another is bringing more girls who look like her into the fold. Asked what is most important to her these days, she tells Glamour, "Breaking barriers. When it comes to modeling. I think there’s only so much runway I can do, so many covers — which I love — but it’s also about doing things that haven’t been done."
She continues, "I’d like to see more beauty campaigns for girls who are mixed Latina and Black. And if I’m in them, that’s great, but overall there’s a scarcity there. Companies need to be more mindful of the world we live in and who their consumer is."
That's part of the reason she decided to tell Maxim magazine to "get your sh*t together" when they mislabeled her photo with the name of another model, Victoria's Secret stunner Lais Ribeiro.
"It’s like, come on, guys. You’ve seen me enough, or just double-check. It goes back to that whole thing of 'oh, we all look alike,'" she says. "And Lais, she’s beautiful, she’s a friend, and I’m really honored to have been compared to her, but she should have her own image. At a certain point, it starts getting to me."
Stay the course, Joan!
(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for W Hotels Worldwide)
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