In Her Own Words... 9 Questions with Morgan Reid
Since becoming a photographer I've gotten some interesting questions from people outside the industry about what I do and who I work with. Over the years I've noticed a lot of personal biases about people in fashion, particularly the models, so I wanted to give them the chance to speak for themselves.
Morgan Reid is a plus size model and artist currently represented by Wilhelmina in LA. We first worked together on an e-commerce project a few years ago and after testing together a couple years ago we became close friends. When she was back in town in the fall we did a couple shoots and she was kind enough to let me interview her, so without further ado, here is In Her Own Words... 9 Questions with Morgan Reid.
How do you define success?
I think success is just being proud of yourself. Of course there’s monetary success, which we all want to find a comfortable place with, but I think it’s more important to be happy with what you’re doing; to find a way to live off of your dreams.
If you weren’t a model what would you be doing?
Probably a lot of things. I’ve never wanted a job that forced me to be in the same place everyday, and I need something that allows me to be creative. I juggle modeling with being an artist and also helping to run a non profit that focuses on building and renovating basketball courts for schools and youth organizations in Africa. I don’t really feel that modeling has held me back from doing other things and pursuing some of my other interests; I think without it I would generally live the same kind of life.
Best piece of advice you were ever given?
To find beauty in yourself through the things you’re capable of. Listening to your heart, your gut, using your brain and being proud of the things you can create as opposed to always thinking of beauty as just an aesthetic or some way that you’re supposed to look.
“A person in her twenties has been a child for most of her life.” It’s from my favorite book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. I think it’s a great thing to go back to in order to remind myself that this is all just the very beginning; that at 24 I don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s also a beautiful humbling of the wisdom I sometimes think I have; I’ve definitely been through a lot and grown into myself a lot in the past few years, but I’ve still got so much to see and do and learn. I think it’s a fun way to look at my life right now.
What is your favorite book?
Oh cool, I can talk more about Rebecca Solnit. A Field Guide to Getting Lost is amazing; part art criticism and part memoir, it definitely found a way to speak to my artistic side and she does such a good job of wrapping up little lessons and wisdom into fascinating stories. Read it!
What achievement are you most proud of?
I don’t think I would single any one achievement out here; I think I’m most proud of how I’ve handled things lately. The good and the bad. I’ve had a lot of really exciting new adventures, especially with modeling, in the last few years. I’m really proud of my art work too, it’s been in a few really cool shows this year! But I also had some big moves, I moved out of NY, lived in Europe for a while, fell in love, lost some modeling jobs that I really wanted. Definitely most proud of how I’ve been able to take all those things as they came, I’ve always wanted to be someone who handled things with grace.
What do you like most about yourself?
Very similar answer. I like that I’ve found a peace with all the moving parts of life. Everything is always changing last minute, modeling can be a very fickle industry as well as the art world, and we’ve definitely had a lot of ups and downs with our non-profit. But it’s been really fun to see how I’ve handled it all. Big fan of whatever part of my brain is able to keep me calm in the crazy moments.
How do you feel about the way women are depicted in the media, and what (if anything) do you do to effect that?
This I could talk about for hours. I think this is one of the most important conversations to have; how women are viewed and treated. Media outlets lately are full of things said by Donald Trump about women, things that promote viewing us as sexual objects. On the other hand, we have a Woman running for President (yes, I capitalized Woman on purpose). I think it’s so important to view ourselves in a way that lifts us up; the media has a lot of opinions about women that are able to control what so many people in the World think of us. Just the other day I had a man tell me that I’m “too big to be pretty.” Based on what, I don’t know…but in an effort to keep this from being pages and pages long; I’ll say that the most important thing we can do, the greatest effect we can have on how women are viewed in the media is to be proud of who we are, just as we are and live in a way that promotes and uplifts all the other women around us.
How have your opinions of beauty changed since becoming a model?
I actually think I have a much healthier outlook on beauty now. When modeling was still just a dream I had I would visualize being one and imagine that I was void of all insecurities and that all things came easy to me, that love would be a simple thing to find, that I would spend all my time freely wandering around all the magnificent cities of the World.
I do get to spend a bit of time wandering around amazing places, but I’m in no way void of all insecurities or bad days.
What’s changed for me after becoming a model is that I actually place less value on my physical appearance. It goes back to the best advice I was ever given: I choose to feel beautiful in moments of strength and through my thoughts, through how my friends see me and the things I’m able to accomplish.