Name: Catherine Field
Title: Plus Size Model
Catherine F. –or commonly referred to as Hourglass Cath, as she has been branded due to her curvaceous figure– is a confident and outgoing plus size model. A stunning size 14/16, she embodies the look of today’s real woman; with her classic lines and features making her incredibly versatile.
Catherine has worked as a part-time model with b&m Models Management for just over a year now. She works full-time as an advertising account supervisor, representing Tier 1 clients for a reputable downtown Toronto agency.
She is incredibly passionate about modelling and the growth of the plus size industry – having struggled her entire life to find a place where she fit in. Alongside this, she is invested in the Beauty Beyond Size movement, and firmly believes that every person should be encouraged and supported in their journey to self-love… and this means starting with our younger generations that so commonly battle with body image issues.
Congratulations on all of your success as a Plus Size Model. How did you get started modelling?
Thank you so much. Well, it all started about 5 years ago when I saw that a plus size clothing store that I followed on Twitter had tweeted that they were looking for models for an upcoming shoot. I applied, not thinking anything of it and that the likeliness of hearing back was highly unlikely, and quickly forgot about it.
A few months later when I was least expecting it I received an email from Angela Samuels, the CEO of Voluptuous Clothing asking for me to come in for a fitting. I was ecstatic! When I went in to fit, I want to note that this was my first time ever going into a plus size clothing store… prior to then, I didn’t know of any plus size stores that weren’t for ‘grandmas’ haha. I was blown away… it’s an odd experience to go into a store where everything fits you like a glove when for your entire life every store you’ve ever gone into you’ve had to ransack for a pair of jeans that fit.
So anyways, when I did the fitting – it was obvious that I was a true 1X, everything fit effortlessly and women who were shopping in the store were stopping in their tracks to ask where they could find whichever piece I was fitting in at the time. Needless to say, post-fitting Angela hired me to do my first photo shoot… and has continued to nurture me over the past 5 years.
What has been your favorite experience thus far – the one you are most proud of?
Hmmmm… favorite experience? That’s tough. I’ve loved every minute of modeling. It is my hobby, my fun, myself. It’s hard to describe; but the best way I can put it is my fantasy. I work full-time in advertising which for anyone who works or knows an advertiser (especially an account person) is that it is an addictive and highly demanding line of work that can be all-consuming. It is very easy to lose sight of yourself in a career that consumes so much of your energy, your heart and your attention. Modelling has been an experience in self-cultivation, curation and passion that I have not had in my life in many years since I stopped horseback riding. Anytime I strut a runway, go on TV for the Marilyn Denis show, model on The Shopping Channel, pose for the Hudson’s Bay Company or am simply working with a new photographer to build my portfolio – the experience is invigorating, enthralling, exciting; it never loses its lustre for me. Modelling will never be something I take for granted because I am truly fortunate for the entire experience. I have been blessed with walking runways in Jamaica and New York, going on live TV and most of all being someone that other people, young women look up to. It is a beautiful gift.
Just like any craft there is a learning curve – how did you learn how to model – both print and runway if applicable?
Like any craft, practice and mentorship are the best ways to learn. Every photo shoot you will get better, every runway show you will learn – I look at photos from when I first started modeling and I have come leaps and bounds since then; it just takes time and you have to be patient. For print, before every shoot I look up inspirational photos of the kinds of looks I hope to achieve, I practice them in the mirror, I practice shooting them with my phone, or make my poor husband take shots – then I study them; this is how you learn to hone your craft, your eyes, your expressions. After every photo shoot, I ask the photographer if they have any feedback for me – positive and constructive… this has always been the most invaluable information. Even after 5 years, I find I am continuously evolving in my print work – every shoot is better than the next so the best advice I can get is to take EVERY opportunity to get behind the camera; the more mileage you get, the better!
For runway, I watch a lot of videos of top models, I’ve gone to runway shows specifically for the reason of watching professional models walk. I have done workshops with runway mentors to receive coaching on my walk; I always film those and then study my walk afterwards to see what I like and what I didn’t like. Practice is key, but also experience on stage is a key factor. Sometimes nerves get the best of you despite all the practice, just remember to be nice to yourself especially if it’s your first time walking! And HAVE FUN with it!!!! That is my approach to everything – modeling is my escape, my job; so I make sure I lap up every bit of it I can and enjoy it. I found the learning curve for runway to be a bit shorter for me, after 1 or 2 shows I could immediately see the difference – but of course, with every additional show I only continue to improve.
Photographer Patricia Recourt
Did you have mentors or role models who helped and inspired you along the way?
I’m weird in the sense I’ve never really had role models, either in modeling or in life in general HA! I work as my own role model… I envision who I want to be and how I want to be and I aspire to that. I have had mentors however – my friend and discovered, Angela Samuels who has nurtured and encouraged me every step of the way. I would not be the confident woman I am today without her… she believed in me at a time in my life when I did not see what she saw.
The Plus Size Industry has changed and continues to evolve – how do you think as a model you are able to help make an impact in how the world sees plus size women?
This is a hard question for me to answer because I don’t necessarily agree with this statement. I want to have an impact on how the world sees women – not plus size women. Yes I am plus size, but I am a woman and I think that is the key differentiator – we are all normal people and want to be treated that way – I don’t want to feel like the ‘other’. To me, the entire plus size industry and movement has been for good – to offer women and men of all sizes equal opportunity to find trendy, stylish clothing. But I find that people are still quick to classify things. When I am at a modelling gig with ‘regular sized’ models, the distinctions between our two ‘classes’ is very significant and we are treated differently, when in reality we are all the same – we are women/men who are models. What I hope to impact is that we are all just ‘regular sized’ models, because in all actuality you could argue that my body is more exemplary of the average woman… what we have historically characterized as normal or average is not necessarily so – I want to establish the new normal.
You exude confidence with every step you take, were you always this confident? Tell us a little bit about the journey to confidence.
Definitely not! For me, there has always been a division to my confidence. There is the confident Catherine in her work, in her morals and in her capabilities as a human being… and then there was the broken Catherine regarding her appearance. The journey to confidence in terms of my appearance has been a long one… in fact my entire life. I had been challenged all my life about my weight, by my family, my peers, my crushes – labelled as the ‘big one’, the ‘fat one’… these are crippling memories that impede a highly influential young person’s confidence. My confidence was so embedded in my weight, I thought I would never feel happy and confident in my skin until I lost the weight. So I dieted and when that didn’t work, I turned to bulimia and anorexia. In university, I lost 30 pounds in less than 2 months everyone kept saying how amazing I looked but no one asked how I did it. That was the saddest part, no one cared how I lost it, they just cared about the end result. And you want to hear the funniest part? Even though I was at my lightest weight ever, I STILL wasn’t happy with how I looked. I still hated myself and any time a guy didn’t like me back (they never did) I assumed it was because of my weight. There are still demons in my head that say, “And it probably was because of the weight”… that is the confidence demon, that little voice that a lot of us plus sizers grapple with every day. I read an article the other day that said that fat people are the strongest people they will ever know; and I have to agree. If you can overcome self-hatred, you can overcome pretty much anything else. Battling your mind is the ultimate, because once you get in a vicious cycle, many will agree with me – it is very hard to get out of.
Anyways, back to my story. So at my lightest I still wasn’t happy… and I decided that I couldn’t very well live my entire life this way. I was deprived of vitamins, of key nutrients my body needed and wasn’t a sustainable way of living. So I let go; I decided I needed to just be. This of course resulted in me ballooning from my lightest weight to my heaviest. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and crying thinking the world was coming to an end. Then I thought, ‘you know what? I have to start loving myself no matter what size I am or else I’m never going to be happy.’ That was when I got on the confidence train… I had to learn to stand by my body at any size because I mattered more than the weight; my life mattered more than the weight. I decided I would not let people control how I saw my body and how I presided over my body – only I could do that. It wasn’t like a flicked a switch and I was immediately confident after that… I had to fake a lot of it until I made it. I walked taller, I spoke firmly, I looked myself in the mirror, I didn’t hide myself – and after a while the confidence felt real. Then I started modelling and my confidence really blossomed from there.
For our readers who are interested in starting a plus model career, what would you suggest are some top tips to get started?
I think it is important to note that a ‘career’ in modeling is not a full-time gig for MOST models… especially in Canada. In the United States it’s a different story, but please do not expect to go into this line of work and not have to work another part-time or even full-time job. A greater part of the models I work with have full-time jobs and model on the side, they have flexible schedules that allow them the opportunity to model… but I also know a few full-time models; it really depends on your look and marketability, as well as your agency.
If you want to start modeling, I recommend reaching out to a few signed models and asking them questions – this will help you get a few different perspectives about this line of work and how each model experiences it. Next, you will need to look up modeling agencies that you’d like to apply to – most have casting days. Find out what you need for casting – head shot or full body shots etc etc. You will need to invest in a shoot to get these shots. I recommend investing in a really good photographer and makeup – you can get all of this done for $300-400 typically. Yes, this is ‘a lot’ but the truth is as a model you will need to invest considerably in your portfolio – so if you’re not up to that, then this may not be for you. There are creative ways to get more affordable photos by trading services with photographers and MUAs, you can be their muse for their portfolios and you benefit from the shots… but to get signed I recommend you invest for the strongest photos.
As a model you’ve had the opportunity to wear a variety of different styles, but what would we catch you in on an ‘off duty’ day? What would you call your fashion sense and how has this evolved through your modeling career?
I am typically in business wear on an off-duty day due to my career, but I would classify my style as classic and edgy. I like long lines, clean cuts and pops of colour – but I love to mix in some edgier pieces to spice up my wardrobe. My fashion sense has indeed evolved throughout my modeling career – learning techniques from stylists and drawing inspiration from outfits has been a constant.
What are you some of your favorite places to shop your style?
I LOVE to shop at Winners and Marshalls… they’re some of my favourite stores because I love the hunt for the pieces. However some of the other key places I shop are: Voluptuous Clothing, Addition Elle, H&M, Forever21 Plus.
What does life look for you outside of the modeling world?
It’s pretty boring hahaha! I work as a full-time advertising account supervisor which takes up a greater part of my time, and I am a devoted wife. That sounds pretty sad doesn’t it? I am a workaholic… so you can understand why modeling is an escape for me!
Thank you for taking time to chat with us today! What is one message you would like to leave with our readers today?
Love yourself. Life is too short not to love your body and the person you are… I wasted years of my life beating myself up. I wish I’d loved myself enough in those years to forgive and love myself. It still hurts today to talk about it – that you can hate yourself so much that you can punish yourself for decades… that from the age of a child, who shouldn’t have a care in the world, that I was acutely aware that my body wasn’t ‘normal’ and that I needed to change… it’s heart-breaking, it’s wrong. Every day I mentally hug that 8-year old Catherine, I tell her she was and is perfect the way she was and is now. That she never deserved to hate herself and didn’t deserve that torture. She was worth the world then and she is worth the world now. It sounds like the simplest thing, loving yourself but it is not something we are taught – and for plus size women/men, it is something we have to teach ourselves amidst constant criticism. So if I can leave one message with you, it’s that loving yourself will be the best gift you can give to yourself and anyone connected to you. Accepting your body allows you to focus your energy on positive things, and allows your heart the room to love freely. It will change your life, so start today because you don’t deserve anything less.