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Kinship Anthology | When Image Is Everything

Jess Greaves

This week our theme is beauty and all things self-care. We take a deep dive into the world of cosmetics, body positivity and how to embrace the skin you're in. Today we are speaking to Jess Greaves, model, photographer and body image advocate and curiously navigate her journey and life in a world where image is everything.

Can you tell us a little about your journey into modelling so far?

Modelling is something I’ve always been familiar with. My mum was and still is a model, and from an early age we used to do TV commercials and campaigns together - my first job being Pampers! As I got older I knew it was something I’d pursue as an adult because I really enjoyed the environment and the creativity of it. At 17 I joined a modelling agency and continued into fashion modelling from there.

Have you found it easy to make female friends within the modeling industry and have you had any problems you have had to overcome?

In the last 7 years in the industry, I’ve gained some of the best friendships I’ve ever had, with women who inspire me every day. I can admit that models have to, metaphorically, take quite the beating to their confidence on the regular, and I’ve never met stronger, more supportive people. It’s not the bitchy, jealous environment everyone expects it to be, honestly! We all have each other’s backs because when it comes down to it, it’s a tough industry to assign yourself to, and it’s easy to be walked over by clients who only see you as a mannequin. That being said, I'm incredibly lucky to do what I do. I travel the world, work with amazing creatives, and get to express myself in an artistic way.

We have noticed a massive social shift recently and girls supporting girls has come to the forefront of our consciousness. Do you have any role models you can share with us?

A role model of mine, who I’m lucky to say is one of my best friends, is Ali Tate (@ali_tate_cutler). She is the strongest, hardest working woman I know, and always the person I turn to for advice on the modelling world. When I feel like I’m letting it all get the better of me, she’s the lady I turn to. Along with Ali there are countless other women I can thank for my personal development, particularly my mother. She’s very good at pushing me to be best, and is great at telling me when I’m overreacting!

Are you part of any female empowered groups and what do they mean to you?

A great movement I follow are the Model Alliance (@modelallianceny), who are a research and policy organisation for people working in the fashion industry. They’re really pushing for models to be taken seriously when it comes to sexual harassment and assault and to hold the right people accountable. I feel sometimes modelling is brushed over as in the eyes of many it’s not seen as a “real job”, and therefore some people have this reaction to assault in the profession where they think the model put themselves in that situation when actually it’s some ***ehole taking advantage. Personally, I’m fortunate that I’ve never had to encounter this. This is a rarity, but it happens, and it needs to be spoken about.

Can you tell us more about body positivity and what it means to you?

Body positivity is a massive deal for me in my work. It’s not an easy subject to get into, because it’s so intrinsically weaved through young people’s lives, especially since social media has been around and we’ve been comparing ourselves to others more than ever before.

I can imagine there is a lot of competition in the modeling industry, have you ever come across any issues and how have you overcome them?

I can’t lie, I have had my struggles, and still do, and negativity to your body image is not something that can be cured overnight. It can’t be fixed on the outside. It’s something that comes from within, from caring for your working machine that’s keeping you alive. It took me 8 years of hating my stretch marks to come to terms with them. I don’t notice them anymore, because I know it's a part of me that makes me unique. Talking about it helps because you realise that everyone has insecurities, most of which you wouldn’t even notice until they tell you. Then, it’s important to let others know that you think they’re beautiful, or you like the clothes they’re wearing today, or the way they've done their hair looks pretty, because a compliment can go a long way. And it’s not a bad thing to take a compliment either! Relish it! Trust it! Feel great from it!

Shop Jess’s favourite looks from the ‘Wear Kinship’ collection

Follow Jess @jessicajgreaves