Meaghan McKinley is a print & runway model and lifestyle blogger from North Carolina. She is no stranger to fashion, with her recent M.A. in Luxury and Fashion Management from Savannah College of Art and Design, there’s nothing in the business of fashion she cannot handle. When she is not ripping the runway she is mentoring youth in her community and teaching them about technology, personal branding, and social media etiquette, all while being a budding entrepreneur launching her own creative branding agency in Spring 2017.
Congratulations on all of your success as a Plus Size Model. How did you get started modeling?
I actually started modeling in high school in a model troupe at my high school. When I was in college I did a few shows with student fashion designers, but did not take modeling seriously until the fall of 2014. I was working in a boutique in Atlanta, when a customer came in and saw my potential and encouraged me to attend a casting call for an upcoming show. I booked the show, did amazing and the rest was history! I began to research plus modeling and follow models and agencies on social media outlets and groom myself to be a model.
What has been your favourite experience thus far – the one you are most proud of?
My favourite experience thus far and the one I am most proud of is being a live mod
el for the 2016 The Curvy Fashionista Style Expo. It was great exposure and I met so many talented designers and models in the industry. The biggest highlight was being able to live model for Monif C. I’ve admired her designs and work since I was 12 years old when I first saw her line on BET’s Rip the Runway. I remember thinking “I’m going to model for her one day…” and now look! I actually did! It was an amazing full circle experience.
Just like any craft there is a learning curve – how did you learn how to model – both print and runway if applicable?
I am self taught for the most part. I just researched, researched, researched. I was a broke grad student when I started so worked with budding photographers, and did what I could in the circumstances I was in and just made a way to get features and book local castings. It helped me with my runway confidence and camera confidence. When I decided I wanted to take it to the next level, I took a Liris Crosse pop-up runway class in Atlanta. Her tips and lessons were helpful, and useful to me in the following shows I had.
Did you have mentors or role models who helped and inspired you along the way?
Initially, I looked up to Kimora Lee Simmons. I loved her. I thought her features were so unique and beautiful and that she was so tall and graceful. When I pursued plus modeling. I started to look to Liris Crosse, Christina Mendez, Precious Lee, Anita Marshall, and Ashley Graham. The stories, journeys, success, and longevity these women have had and
are projected to have is quite inspiring to me. It makes a light bulb go off for myself, because these ladies clearly are doing something right and I want to follow suit.
Also, plus size fashion bloggers really helped me. They are a big deal to be honest. Marie Denee (The Curvy Fashionista) and Maui Bigelow (Phat Girl Fresh) really opened doors and gave me a chance to network and gain exposure in the industry. I appreciate them so much for that.
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?
What is so beautiful about being curvy and plus size is that we all are different. There is no one definite shape as a curvy plus size woman. It is important to show model diversity when representing millions of women, not only with ethnicity, but with body shapes and silhouettes. I notice every time a plus model is vocal about her curves and health there are 10 other people or media sources slandering her about it. We have to be louder than the nay-sayers, and not allow anyone to hush us down. I feel as though as a model I am and will continue to not hide or body shame the curves I have and carry that confidence and attitude in my daily life and where ever I go. Also, sharing that body positivity, confidence, and self love with younger women so we can break the cycle of girls feeling less than in their adolescent years because of their size, height, and shape.
You exude confidence with every step you take, were you always this confident? Tell us a little bit about the journey to confidence.
I was not always as confident as I am today. Growing up I had my struggles being thicker than most of the girls my age, but I was never too down on myself. I think I owe that to my mother, for always encouraging me and telling me that I was beautiful, brilliant and worthy. I was blessed to be brought up in a home where negativity was not festering but positive affirmations were spoken into my life daily.
For our readers who are interested in starting a plus model career, what would you suggest are some top tips to get started?
If you are in a bigger city, look for those local boutiques or businesses that cater to plus size women and ask them do they ever need models. Ask them can you be a promo model and style their clothing, wear it, and post it on social media. Seek out top bloggers in that area and network with them. Start photographing yourself and building hashtags. Utilize social media it is such a great tool! Work with a budding photographer who wants to build their portfolio, while also building yours. Learn your angles and what poses work best for you. Know your craft and study models in the industry. Observe what works for them and see what inspires and works for you.
As a model you 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 would call it “Street Chic.” I am stylish yet comfortable. Leggings are essential in my wardrobe. I only own 2 pair of jeans. It’s Fall so I love accessorizing with different jackets and hats. I stay true to comfort. I incorporate new trends and styles but comfort is always the most important.
What are you some of your favorite places to shop your style?
I’m addicted to online retail! I am starting to prefer that instead now a days. Boo hoo, ASOS, Misguided, and Forever21 are my go to’s for fashion right now.
What does life look for you outside of the modeling world?
I believe that what ever I do or am associated with should be benefiting to someone other than myself. Mentoring teenagers and exposing them to different creative outlets and working on my personal business ventures are what my focuses are outside of the modeling world right now.
Thank you for taking time to chat with us today! What is one message you would like to leave with our readers today?
Don’t be attached to the outcome. If you believe you have given something your all and there is nothing left you can do, just let it go and know that if it was meant for you it will be and if not there is something better around the corner in your future.