Skyler McCurine is redefining the look of leadership as a personal stylist, public speaker, wonder woman, and founder of Le Red Balloon. Driven by the lackluster stereotypical portrayal of women in the media, she leads workshops for teenage girls and professionals around conscious media consumption, leadership, self acceptance, personal branding, and of course, style. Skyler’ s passion for fostering leadership and courage in young women led her to be invited to TEDx, SD Business Journal “ Emerging Generation Award” and her invitation to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit as Swiss Luxury watch brand Baume & Mercier’ s guest of distinction. She was a finalist for the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the social entrepreneurship category. She is a native San Diegan and received her BA in Communication Studies from Loyola Marymount University and MA in Organizational Management from Ashford University. When Skyler is not busy trying to change the world, she is brazenly venturing through it, getting lost in the beauty, and leaving a trail of red balloons behind her. She enjoys jazz, laughter, bare feet and occasionally indulges in copious amounts of champagne…all the time.
Congratulations on all of your success as a Plus Size Model. How did you get started modeling?
I started by creating a Model Mayhem account in 2009. I booked my own jobs, most of which were trade. After a year of dabbling on weekends and going to auditions on my lunch breaks, I received my first paying gig. On that gig, I met a model that booked the job through their agent and suggested I meet with her. I joined her agency a couple months later, was dropped after a year and joined San Diego Model Management two years ago. I also book work on my own and am excited to see what the next few years bring.
What has been your favorite experience thus far – the one you are most proud of?
My agency booked me to host a large International Fashion Film Festival in July—I hosted a gorgeous/packed theatre, ran a director’ s panel, wrangled challenging personalities while remaining gracious, thought on my feet, threading dialogue together, thoughtfully in a room filled with creative visionaries from around the world. You should have seen my sweat stains. Hahaha I worked hard, did a great job, and still managed to tuck my 92 year old grandmother, my Queen, who suffers from Dementia, into bed. I negotiated my own pay and led that panel with a five-minute heads up, there was no time to prepare and I made myself ready.
Just like any craft there is a learning curve – how did you learn how to model – both print and runway if applicable?
While one can be skilled in modeling, the circumstances/context of each job are always new, different; there is always a learning curve. In the beginning I did a lot of free work, to gain experience and explore what it feels like to use your body as a medium of and for beautiful art—do this safely.
Did you have mentors or role models who helped and inspired you along the way?
No. I built the plan while flying, still am.
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? / You exude confidence with every step you take, were you always this confident? Tell us a little bit about the journey to confidence.
My venture into modeling was a venture into myself, as most journey’s are. My dream/concept/misconception/desire to start modeling came after years of trying to contort myself into America’s stifling and ridiculous standard of beauty. To me there was no higher honour than to be a model, it would mean by the world’s standards I am beautiful, acceptable, validated. I’m so grateful for the years of driving to auditions in LA, all of the no’s that exhausted me to the point that I could no longer fight the woman, body, and person I am. When I started modeling I was working hard, and not healthily, to become a size 4. I started asking myself, why is the word fat an ugly word? Who is deciding what is “pretty” (nearly always male, pale, stale)? Why aren’t there more women in boardrooms? Why is my appearance so important to me, it’s a piece of me but it sure as hell aint all of me? I started asking those questions and I wanted real answers which led to real conversations with multifaceted, brilliant women. My eyes softened towards myself and I now see that real beauty glows when we declare our own beauty; when we become our own Beyonce and no longer compare our thighs to her. I am now a proud size 14-16 and stand regally at 237 pounds, when I fought to be myself, I started to get more work and work I truly enjoyed. I know that when I step onto a runway, I am usually the only non-white woman, the only person above a 2 and I’m honoured to be the example that gorgeous, sexy, isn’t a privilege for the thin, young, wealthy, conventionally attractive, or pretty, it’s ours for the taking. My body, my hugeness of voice, thought, walk, and size give other people permission to take up as much space as they feel called to, as much as they want.
For our readers who are interested in starting a plus model career, what would you suggest are some top tips to get started?
Start where you are. Use what you have and do what you can. Keep doing the next right thing, a career is as long as your life; you have time to accomplish what you dream of. Be patient with yourself, do the work but recognize you can only do your best. Work on accepting “what is” vs. making a missed job/ etc. about what you are “not” (good enough, small enough, pretty enough).
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 modelling career?
My style is …just a bit too much. Pom poms, color galore, vibrant textures and fun, always fun. I have always expressed myself through clothing; I am growing to be even more audacious when I dress.
What are you some of your favorite places to shop your style?
Le Bel Age Boutique Anthropologie Various boutiques that allow me to find and buy unique things for an audacious Queen who favours pom poms, bright colors, and COLOR.
What does life look for you outside of the modeling world?
I own a small business and modeling is an extension of the work I do. My business’ mission is to redefine the look of leadership—I do that through the clients I work with privately, speaking, modeling and advocacy work. My projects this year have included everything from styling an international hair show, designing and facilitating curriculum for a corporate client, to hosting an event that went over our local propositions, to collecting and administering tampons for homeless women. I also co-care take for my 92-year-old grandmother with Dementia. Every darn day is different, I go where I am called, and I always make time for champagne, guacamole & chips. For the record, Chipotle’s everywhere, I will pay extra for guac.
Thank you for taking time to chat with us today! What is one message you would like to leave with our readers today?
There are multiple ways of being, thousands of ways more than what you are shown everyday through tv, radio. Who dares question that your way is an inappropriate way or the right way. Get quiet and pen your own definitions of womanhood, career, beauty, political engagement, success, family, love, sexuality, etc. Work hard to ensure that these definitions are rooted in inclusion and tenderness. Your friends, work, clothes, haircut – if they don’t make you walk taller, lift your head higher, and live a life of purpose then they don’t deserve to be in your world any longer