When it comes to models to know, Betsy Teske tops our list. She may be only 21, but she’s already breaking down boundaries in in the fashion industry and dominating the modelling game. On top of booking a Vogue editorial and several European covers, last fall, Betsy became the first curve model walk the Alexander McQueen runway in Paris. Lucky for us, Betsy was able to take some time away from her busy schedule of conquering the modelling industry to talk to Couturesque about how she got to where she is and what she does to stay on top of her game.
Corinne: What’s your first memory of fashion? When did you know you wanted to be a model?
Betsy: I have always wanted to be a model but I always thought I was too big to be one. I would look at the skinny models and feel terrible because none of them looked like me. I thought I was enormous, while in reality, I just had a body that was healthy for ME. Looking at other curvy models opened my eyes to the possibility of being a curve model. After being signed with LindaModels in the Netherlands and MILK in London I had a cover for Wienerin in Austria. I couldn’t believe it, me, on a cover! I was so amazed that I cried.
Corinne: What are some of your favorite parts of modelling?
My favorite parts of modelling are definitely the thrill from walking on the catwalk and the lovely people I work with. It’s so nice to read messages from people saying they are inspired and moved by me; it gives meaning to what I am doing. If only one person thinks they have to start loving themself instead of hating themselves because of me, I am happy. That is the most important thing. If you are confident in your own skin I believe you can withstand everything life throws at you.
Corinne: You’re the first curvy model to ever walk for Alexander McQueen in Paris, could you tell us a little bit about that experience?
It was so amazing to be the first curvy model on the Paris fashion week runway, the other models were super supportive and the team of McQueen is fabulous and lovely. Sarah Burton is amazing and when I came back this season it felt like I was welcomed by family. The first time I walked Alexander McQueen was scary. I was told I would probably never walk on the runway, so I had never really practiced before. When McQueen contacted my agent, it was really exciting, but the two days before the show I was just walking up and down, up and down, practicing my walk. My feet were killing me after the show, but it was totally worth it. The thrill when I was on the runway felt like electricity was running through my veins, and I get goose bumps when I think about it. And the second time was the same way. I guess you can’t get used to that feeling, haha!
Corinne: In the time you’ve been modelling, have you been able to notice a shift in the way plus-sized and curvy models have been cast and accepted in the industry?
No, not yet. I think it will take a few years.
Corinne: What are some of the ways in which you have learned to overcome societal pressures in regard to beauty standards?
The most important rule, to be taken with a grain of salt: ‘Don’t give a damn.’ Of course you have to listen to critics, but you have to be able to rule out for yourself what you can use and what is just plain useless. For example, YouTube comments are mostly plain useless. Try to listen to what people are saying, but also keep in mind to not take everything to heart as that will leave you afraid to do anything.
Corinne: If you are having an off day (as we all do), what are some of the things you do to boost your confidence? Do you have any self-care practices or rituals?
Every day I try to surround myself with friends and people. I eat a healthy whole-food diet with lots of greens, but I also treat myself from time to time. I try to go to bed on time and I go outside for some essential vitamin D. If that doesn’t work and I am having a bad day, I put on a movie, preferably Legally Blonde, Disney, or whatever I feel like. I will have a dark chocolate bar (75% or more is best for happy hormones!) and cry it out. Trying to tell someone how I am feeling is also important for my mental wellbeing, be it on the phone or in real life. Oh and hugs! I am a very huggy person.
Corinne: What does being a role model mean to you? How do you aim to inspire young people trying to get into modelling or the fashion industry? What advice do you have for someone looking to become a model, especially if they might fall outside of the industry’s traditional standards?
I find being a role model very honorable. I have had some girls pour their hearts out to me on social media and I just want to give them a big hug and tell them they are fine how they are if they are healthy. I think doing the things I am doing now could inspire someone. If someone wants to be a model, I want them to first take a step back and evaluate themselves. Are you happy with yourself? With your actions, your looks, who you are as a person? Are you happy and healthy? Go ahead, give it a spin, no matter your size. The modelling industry is harsh, and if you don’t have a thick skin you could end up hurting yourself by entering it. Of course, it is fun, but just be very aware of the dangers. Just listen to all the horror stories about girls starving themselves to fit a set mould. I don’t want that to happen to anyone. Be yourself, are you happy, give it a go, if not, work on yourself first. It’s what you deserve.
Corinne: If you could go back and tell your past-self anything what would you tell her?
I would grab her by her shoulders and tell her to ignore what everyone is calling her. I would tell her better times are coming, ‘you will get out of the pit of darkness, you just gotta keep hanging in there a little longer. You are gonna feel loved, you will have real friends. You are fine the way you are and you definitely don’t have to change.’ I would also tell her that being blonde doesn’t make you stupid, it makes you blonde.
Corinne: What is the most important thing you’ve learned while modelling?
To love my flaws, or what I used to perceive at flaws. Big boobs, big hips. Confidence creates energy and happiness. If you are not confident in your body you will never be happy. Of course you hear this everywhere, but now I FEEL it intrinsically and it is so true.
Corinne: If you could walk in any show, what would it be?
So many options! I would love to walk for Stella McCartney, Dior, Victoria’s Secret, Draper James... But if I HAD to choose one, Dior.
Follow @betsyteske on Instagram. Special thanks to Muse NYC.