These Two Models Redefined The Paris Fashion Runways

While the push for diversity on the runways has steadily improved in terms of race, when it comes to catering to different sizes, fashion has still fell monumentally short of satisfactory. While brands in New York like Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, Christian Siriano and Chromat casted models like Ashley Graham, Marquita Pring, Candice Huffine, and Sabina Karlsson this past season, many brands have failed to followed suit, especially when it comes to the other fashion capitals. This past show season however, one brand decided to switch it up from its normal routine and take a chance on two burgeoning runway stars, Betsy Teske and Eline Lykke Nytun. Both walked for style stalwart, Alexander McQueen in one of the major shows of the season casted by Jess Hallett. We spoke to the two about their beginnings, their experience walking for the first time, and working as curvy models in an industry that pressures you to be as thin as possible.

So I just walked for Alexander McQueen. 😱Thanks so much to the amazing team! Loved working with you!!!

A post shared by Betsy Teske (@betsyteske) on

When did you first want to be a model? How did you two get into the industry?

Betsy Teske: I always wanted to be a model, but I thought I was too big. I saw online there was a market for curvy models and my aunt had always told me I should become one so I gave it a try and wrote to a model agency in the Netherlands. She liked my look and wanted me in her curvy department! I was so very excited and I’m so happy I did it.

Eline Lykke Nytun: Haha, to be honest, I never dreamed of being a model before I became one! There was this small contest with the local model agency in my hometown Ålesund, (Norway) where you could win a modelling contract, and a lot of girls from my school applied so my friends and I decided to as well. For me as a tomboy, it was kind of as a joke but it turned out pretty good. A few days after we applied I got a call, and I was shocked to know I was one of the 20 contestants. To my, and everyone’s surprise, I won the whole thing! My first real modelling job was at Alexander McQueen.

How do you feel about the term “plus-size” model?

Betsy Teske: It is just a term to describe girls with more curves. I’m just as neutral to the term as I am to the word ‘tree’. It’s just for descriptive purposes. I am bigger than straight size, so I am plus-size.

Eline Lykke Nytun: I don’t really use the term “Plus-Size” model on myself & other models not because I have a problem with the term, but because I don’t think our size matters that much. But if people need to have a word/term to describe a model’s proportions that’s fine with me!

The plus industry has been wildly ignored in the luxury fashion sector – how was the experience walking for a major fashion house like Alexander McQueen?

Betsy Teske: You can’t imagine what an honor it was, walking for McQueen. I think me walking for McQueen really was a change, and I hope other luxury fashion brands include more curves.

Eline Lykke Nytun: The experience walking for Alexander McQueen was absolutely amazing. I felt like a fairy-tale princess! But now after seeing how difficult it is and how much extra work it takes to make flattering clothes for curvy bodies, I do understand why the plus industry has been wildly ignored. I am extremely honored to be a part of this fantastic evolution. The fact that Alexander McQueen put not only one, but two curvy girls on the runway in Paris fashion week totally changed the game.

Did you ever feel pressure to fit within the size status quo?

Betsy Teske: When I was younger, yes. Being a loner as a kid and very unpopular, I thought I had to be thinner so I could be more attractive and get more friends. I thought I needed to be a size 0 so I could be accepted. I am so happy I got out of that toxic mindset. Nobody needs that in their life. As long as you live a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced diet, you shouldn’t need to worry about your size compared to others. This applies to men and women of all ages and races. Life is hard enough, we shouldn’t have to worry about something so irrelevant. There is so much more beyond the horizon we could see if we’d stop worrying.

Eline Lykke Nytun: No. Never. My agencies have always supported me to stay as I am if I want to and change if I want that too. I’ve been lucky and I’m happy with my body how it is.

What’s the biggest challenge of being a plus-sized model?

Betsy Teske: Hmm… That is a hard one. I don’t really struggle as a plus-sized model. The only thing I could think of is people telling me on Instagram that I am either too thin to be a plus-sized model or they think I am straight-sized and they question why I look so big in clothing. It really doesn’t bother me though, I just laugh it off.

Eline Lykke Nytun: To find pants that fit both my waist and my butt.

What steps do you think the industry needs to take to improve?

Betsy Teske: Diversity, diversity, diversity. I am stressing this. That is also why I love McQueen. Different races, different sizes… Love it! I think it also makes sense from a marketing standpoint. Wouldn’t you rather buy something you know is going to fit well rather than to be disappointed because it doesn’t fit as nice as it does on the straight-sized girl on the poster?

Eline Lykke Nytun: I think that the industry should focus more on if it’s a great model who does amazing work, rather than on what size he or she is. It shouldn’t be a stopper in your career if you for example have a high-fashion face and a commercial body.

How do you personally define beauty?

Betsy Teske: Confidence. Someone can look so conventionally beautiful, but if they don’t feel confident, it just doesn’t leave as much as an impression.

Eline Lykke Nytun: I define beauty in passion and love for what you do and how you live your life. Beauty for me is diversity – plus-size, straight-size, short, tall, dark-skinned or super pale, and everything in-between.

Who has given you good advice in the industry and what is advice that you would pass on to the next generation of models?

Betsy Teske: By my mother agency not to lose weight and do it at the size you are healthily at. And also, to keep studying. At some point in time, you might go out of fashion and if you didn’t earn enough, you might end up without money or a job.

Eline Lykke Nytun: I’ve gotten a lot of good advice from my supporting family, other, more experienced models, and most of all, from photographers who have been in the industry for a while. My advice to the next generation of models is to dare to be yourself, no matter what; work super hard. Always be polite to everyone you meet; don’t lose hope if you get a “no” on a job, be happy that you were one of the few who were considered for the job; and use sunscreen, drink A LOT of water and wash your face every day.

What’s next on the horizon? Are there any photographers you want to work with or dreams you want to accomplish?

Betsy Teske:: I am planning on going to NYC very soon! I would love to do more big brands or to do acting jobs. My dream is to walk for Victoria’s Secrets as a model. With the big changes in the industry, who knows?

Eline Lykke Nytun: I feel like if I set my dream on one specific Job or one specific brand, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get to do it so I try to just enjoy every chance I get. As for photographers, I’d really love to work with Peter Lindbergh or Russell James.

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