Meet Frenchy Michelle, our Monday Model
Congratulations on all of your success as a plus size model. How did you get your start modeling?
If I were anything but plus sized, the world would have never seen me become a model.
The only reason I have come up as a plus size model is a meeting of: the social norms here in the states, the combination of the current emergence of plus sized women being up for discussion as to whether they should be perceived as women who have the potential to be exceptional and or celebrated, this body that I have by circumstance, this mind by almost equal circumstance, and this drive that results only because of the realization of the combination of everything else that has been previously listed.
I am at the perfect place for me, at the perfect time in fashion and social history.
What has been your favorite experience thus far – the one you were most proud of?
The signing of my second contract. Even I could tell myself at a weak moment that the first one could’ve been luck, or circumstance, or being unfairly favored for whatever irrational reason by the individuals involved. Once I left that building with that swirling, lightheaded feeling the second time, with that second contract I knew I had made it and I was becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Just like any craft there is a learning curve – how did you learn how to model – both print and runway if applicable?
I think a strong headstart for me was growing up in the LA area. I did singing and acting growing up in school and did not hesitate to develop a serious hobby of dance, despite being a bigger girl. My style in print is very much a product of growing up in an area of highly concentrated culture. Photographers usually noticed right away that my posing style and body awareness is just a little different – I feel it – like a dancer, to the tips of my fingers, toes, and the tip of my nose. Learning runway was similar because it too is often strictly choreographed.
Did you have any mentors or role models who helped and inspired you along the way?
As a person my dad, Leslie, was the key in shaping who I am. I observe, think, and feel deeply. This is key to modeling, because everything you document in a picture is a statement about not only what you have seen, but what it means from several different perspectives and levels.
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 on how the world sees plus size women?
I never thought I could become a role model or make an impact until people started telling me that was exactly what I was doing. Some stories will just make you cry, and I have. My goal is to not only exhibit that plus women are perfectly capable of being strong, charismatic, and aesthetically pleasing, but that we can even excel beyond that. Plus women can be dynamic, irresistible. And we can also amaze and need not be apologetic. I want to be a part of bringing that knowledge base to the public and also to the plus size women who are not aware of everything that they hold in their arsenal.
You exude confidence with every step you take, were you always this confident? Tell us a little bit about your journey to confidence.
Oh my goodness. I was thick from day one. So many experiences found me returning home with dragging feet and I discouraged spirit. I was promised by my parents that life would be easier for me once I was out of school. I didn’t understand why, but they were right. Why did I have to grow up in a world where children were taught I was something to be made fun of and perceived to have such low social value and then be received better by grown men and women later on? My confidence came through time as I grew from a child to a woman. I want very much to help change impressions children have of their thicker peers.
For our readers who are interested in starting a plus model career, what would you suggest or some top tips to get started?
Know how to manage and be an employee. In modeling, you are your own manager and your own employee. It all starts by filling both roles and holding yourself to strict standards. Set goals for yourself and start chipping away. Constantly educate yourself. The Internet is at your fingertips. Use it.
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 dress the same as the Fancy Feast cat would if she had thumbs, LOL. I don’t know. I guess I’m a little themey. I dress to match my mood. Vamp, pin-up, flower child, Victorian. I love deep colors, prints with high contrast, chiffon, embroidery, and studs. I’ve got whole personalities noodling around up here. Each personality must have their own day… And being a part of fashion and the fashion industry has not changed any of it.
What are some of your favorite places that you shop for your style?
Most everything I have is from T.J. Maxx and thrift stores. My Christmas morning is finding myself at the front door of a thrift store of a big city. Just a thought gets me rubbing my hands together inside my head!
What kinds of things do you do on your off days? What do you enjoy doing when you’re not modeling?
I’m on the road a lot. I still spend a lot of time with my dad. He’s getting up there in age, so I’m valuing every day I have with him. I surprise myself with how much life gets me into. I have designed and executed events and even managed a band. Life is crazy!
What is one thing you would like to leave with our readers today?
It means so much to me to have opportunities like this to get in front of you as a woman, and not just as a model. Our connections as part of the plus size community are so important to strengthen this movement. Our experiences and details of our path are different, but the impressions and emotions that brought us here are so similar. Most of us were ostracized as you and had to come out of that down the road as best as we could, and that struggle and victory binds us. Because of both the women out there like you and the models, we are providing society with a new perspective for families and communities to provide their children: one of inclusion and empowerment.
I will never take the part that I play in this, lightly.
On location photos
Eric Jackson Photographer
HMUA Frenchy Michelle
Model Frenchy Michelle
Designer Jessica McClintock