Siren Phoenix Osceola is a professional plus-size model based in Pennsylvania. She’s auditioned for America’s Next Top Model and been voted the 2013 Plus Model of the Year by the New York Fashion Association. Siren has already accomplished so much, but shows no sign of slowing down. Enjoy our interview with her and the breathtaking pictures ahead (she’s even wearing a ‘fat-kini’)!
Tell us about yourself!
My background and experience is in art, business, finance, and retail. When I’m not working I relax with my family, catch up on my reading, travel, and of course shopping are a few of my hobbies. My current career goal is just to keep learning as a model to keep relevant.
When did you decide you wanted to be a model?
I never considered myself the “model” type. But I decided to start modeling after being told to pursue it by people in the fashion and media industry. I thought it would be a joke but the joke backfired in a positive way on me.
Today, what accomplishment do you consider to be most significant to your career?
So far, it was winning Plus Model of the Year 2013 by the New York Fashion Association. I was shocked to be selected because I had only been modeling for just a little over a year. I was honored just to be a nominee.
You auditioned for America’s Next Top Model a while ago. What was that experience like?
It was a reality check because that was my first attempt at modeling. I went because the casting was in my hometown.
“I was told I had the face but needed to be smaller because I wasn’t plus-size, but full-figured.
At that time I was a size 18/20.”
What was the Full-Figured Fashion Week competition like?
Any excuse to travel to New York City is a plus for me. We were actually in Harlem right across the street from the Apollo Music Theater.
I had so much fun meeting the top plus-size fashion bloggers, media, and models for the #StyleStar Competition for Ashley Stewart. The competition was for the bloggers to dress the models right off the rack in the store.
Are there challenges to being a plus-size or African American model?
Always a challenge because a model is judged on their beauty or look. The challenges I have had as plus-size model is being considered “too curvy” for my size and my look is “exotic” as an African American woman.
Are there “rules” to being a plus-size model or certain things that a plus-size model must consider during a photoshoot that another model wouldn’t?
“There are rules to everything in life. The most important rule is to be honest with yourself because not every pretty face or body type is a model at any dress size. First, determine if you’re model material because you’re a product in reality – a live mannequin if you’re a print model, or a walking hanger if you’re a runway model. Be coachable and review the photographer’s work prior to the shoot. Always ask questions as a model or give input on the look to achieve the best photo possible.”
What advice could you give women/girls who are looking to model or just accept their bodies?
“You have to love yourself regardless of your size. If you’re unhappy, then change it for yourself only. People’s opinion should not be the main input on your body acceptance.
Now if you’re trying to become a model, you have to be thick-skinned. Also, be able to read the positive informative criticism versus the intentionally malicious criticism. You can’t be the cup of tea at every party, but you can still sit at the table like a lady.”
How do you feel about the label “plus-size?’
I’m fine with the term “plus-size” or “curvy,” and even “full-figured.” Just don’t call me “big and beautiful” or “BBW.” Those terms have a stigma on me – it’s like saying to me “To be big/fat, you’re pretty.”
Have you ever struggled with body image?
I do struggle with body image, but I’m my worst critic. I’m always working on it but it’s more for health reasons than vanity reasons. I’m an Amazon statuesque shape and love it. So, I don’t diet but I watch what I eat and watch what I should not be eating, too. I try to stay active and get to the gym when I can with my schedule.
How would you like to see the modeling industry change?
I would love to see some new faces emerge in print and runway. Plus-size models have different genres and range just like the standard model industry.
Are there any models that you look up to or inspire you?
I’m inspired by the uniqueness of Josephine Baker, Marilyn Monroe, Donyale Luna, Grace Jones, Emme Aronson, Beverly Johnson, Queen Latifah, Velvet D’Amour.
Who or what has been the biggest motivation in your career?
I still admire Oprah Winfrey! I remember seeing her on television not looking the society’s “norm” (a woman, African American, and not thin) in the media.
“She was breaking all the rules we were conditioned to watch on television, making power moves, yet became the people’s choice. She still inspires me to believe that my mind and goals can be achieved and accomplished regardless of my flaws.”
What impact would you like to have/what would you like to accomplish as a model?
I would like to one day open a model agency for all sizes.
Any exciting upcoming projects or goals?
I’m gearing up to cast/return to a few Fashion Week Shows this Fall. I’m already returning to Connecticut and D.C. Fashion Week. I was also recently selected for the first Full-Figured Fashion Week in Columbia, S.C.
I’m blessed and excited have the opportunity to rip the runways in the standard and plus model markets.
Creative Director Info: MUA & Hairstyle: Siren Phoenix Osceola / Professional Plus-size Model / www.sirenphoenixosceola.com