You’ve been modeling since you were 11 years old. How did it affect the way you grew up?
My parents did a great job of making sure modeling didn’t become my whole life. I stayed at the same small school throughout my entire childhood, and my main focuses were on academics, sports, friends, and family. Things started to change once I reached puberty, and the expectations of my agents started to become incredibly toxic. They wanted me to maintain my prepubescent figure and, unfortunately, that’s when modeling took a turn for the worse. Those years definitely took a toll on me and almost drove me to leave the industry.
You’ve been very open about your history of an eating disorder on YouTube and on your podcast. What compelled you to share something so personal with the public?
An eating disorder is a very isolating struggle. I’ve watched as they’ve become increasingly glamorized on social media and so many young girls are being affected. As I began my recovery, I felt like I had a responsibility, as someone in this industry that creates beauty standards, to speak up about my experiences.
The industry has changed a lot over the past two decades, including embracing a more inclusive standard. Where do you think the fashion industry can still improve?
Seeing women of all different shapes and sizes and ethnicities in ad campaigns makes me so happy. I also love seeing brands publish unretouched images, leaving in the natural stretch marks, cellulite, scars, bellies, thighs, and so-called “imperfections” that all women have. Something that could significantly improve the lives of many models would be to change the sample size from a 0–2 to a 4–6. Most models are tall, so that makes a size 0 dangerous for most to achieve, and requires them to be medically underweight. I also think it would be amazing if agents were required to get some type of education in identifying and helping to prevent eating disorders.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is always evolving, but right now, I would describe it as 1970s-inspired, and a bit tomboyish. I’ve also been exploring my softer, more feminine side, which is new for me. Most of my closet is thrifted, and I find a lot of inspiration from mixing and matching vintage styles.
How do you spend your free time?
You can take the girl out of Virginia, but you can’t take the Virginia out of the girl! I spend so much time outside, exploring upstate New York, hiking, camping, swimming, and pretty much anything else you can do outdoors. I love to read, and right now I’m obsessed with memoirs. I just finished “Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black” by Cookie Mueller and really enjoyed it. My all-time favorite book is “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. The shows I’ve been obsessed with lately are The Last of Us and The Bear, which was actually recommended to me by the hair and make-up team on this shoot.
Ruven Afanador has photographed so many icons over his career. What was it like to work with him?
Ruven himself is the icon! He is one of the most artful and creative photographers I’ve ever known. This was my first time working with him, and I was so excited for the opportunity to see how he shoots. He shot every look through handmade, handheld, gel contraptions. He truly is a creative genius, and it was such a pleasure to get a glimpse into his process.
What was your favorite look from the shoot and why?
My favorite was our last shot of the day, which was this incredible Miu Miu mini dress with blue tights, gorgeous pearl and diamond earrings, and the most major hairstyle of the day. Everyone was so excited about the look, and the energy was so great on set—even at the very end of the day.
Photographer: Ruven Afanador; Stylist: Cristina Ehrlich; Model: Bentley Mescall/Heroes Model Management; Makeup: Genevive Herr/ Sally Harlor; Hair: DJ Quintero/ The Wall Group; Set Designer: Charlotte Malmlof; Photography Assistants: Aydan Crumrine, Rob Northway; Associate Stylist: Bridget Blacksten; Stylist Assistants: Martha Franchi, Meg Galvin; Props Assistant: Leti Soriano; Digital Tech: Keith Ketwaroo