Q&A with Elisabeth Moore

Elisabeth Moore is a plus model and photographer. She lives in Santa Barbara and is currently modeling for the European fashion brand Carmakoma.

You can see more of Elisabeth Moore on her Facebook page and Instagram.

Why did you decide to become a model?
I decided to give it a try because of the challenge more than anything. I had been dealing with negative body image issues for a long time, and my fear of rejection was kind of the last hurdle. I’d either be accepted or rejected, but either way I needed to face it and learn how to deal with either outcome. So when the opportunity to model was there, I took a chance and tried it out. The whole experience was so empowering! The decision to keep pursuing modeling was made because of the empowerment I felt. I want to share that feeling to those that need it! Whether it’s someone feeling better about their stretch marks after they’ve seen that I have them too, or knowing that I once cried the same tears in the fitting room when the jeans didn’t fit, I want women to know that we can all relate to each other! Growing up, seeing models in magazines always made me feel so bad about myself because I couldn’t relate to them. I’d look at the skinny models and it would just ruin my day because I’d never be “normal” like them, and it hurt!

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What impact do you hope to leave on the modeling community?
I hope to be a part of the bigger picture. Things are changing in this industry and I think it’s a really exciting time to be a part of it! Candice Huffine in the Pirelli calendar is a sign that things are going in the right direction!  It’s going to take baby steps, but it’ll all lead to something worthwhile.  Bringing more diversity in the fashion world is so important. The industry has to keep up with the times, especially when there are so many different groups of people that want to be represented in it!

The American modeling industry is full of horror stories—pressure to be dangerously thin, sexualizing adolescents, etc. Despite these stigmas, would you still like to get more work in the U.S. instead of Europe?
Comparing the American modeling industry with the plus size is apples to oranges. So far I haven’t heard of any pressure to be dangerously thin, thank goodness! Everyone in the plus industry so far has been incredibly kind and supportive. It really does feel like a community! I know it won’t be like that all the time, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  I want to continue working in Europe because that’s where a big part of my life is. After living in Sweden so many of my friends are scattered around Europe, plus my boyfriend is there, and of course the wonderful Carmakoma family is, too! I love being able to go to Europe for modeling jobs!  But I’d also love to build a name for myself in my own country. I think the travel time to work would be a little bit easier, too!

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Can you tell us a little bit about CARMAKOMA?
Carmakoma is the plus size fashion brand from the Danish design duo Heidie Lykke and Angelica Weiss. The clothing is a wonderful mix of modern day femininity and edginess, and a little rock chic with glam. I heard about Carmakoma while I was living in Sweden, and I fell in love the moment I saw their clothes. It was everything I ever dreamed of wearing, but up until that time I didn’t think I could because of my size. They are getting ready to break into the US market next year, and I’m so excited because the demand is here! American plus size bloggers and fashionistas are thrilled to have such a favorite brand become easier to get a hold of.

Suicide Girls—art or smut?
Can I say it’s both art and smut? I like to believe that not all smut is bad. Sometimes it can be fun and provocative! It’s great to see women comfortable in their own bodies, as real and different as they might be. I can’t support one group of women who don’t fit the physical ’norm’ and not support those who are tattooed, pierced, and essentially modern day pin-ups. Seeing women confident with their sexuality is wonderful!  Sure, some of it is smutty but who says that’s a bad thing?  Betty Page and Pamela Green were basically doing the same thing! The photographers, makeup artists, stylists, and models of Suicide Girls are all creating their own art, so yeah I would say it’s art. I’m glad the site is still around! It’s been a few years since I checked it out, but now I see that they have a touring burlesque show? I want to go!!

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Any plans to work with Mike Belleme again?
I think Mike has a long list of people who would love to be photographed by him, and I’m without a doubt on that list. The first and only time we worked together was during a production of The Fantasticks that I was in. He took some photos during a rehearsal and we were all in awe of his ability to capture the magic of that show. I mean, it’s a show with minimal sets and costumes, but he managed to translate the magic that all the actors felt and put it into some beautiful photographs. So yes, I’d always be thrilled to work with him! It’s wonderful when you can completely trust the eye of your photographer. Although I think the photographer side of me would be disappointed that I couldn’t be behind the camera with him.

Who are your biggest influences in the modeling world?
Crystal Renn was the most inspiring plus model. Seeing pictures of her at her curviest years was so beneficial to me. It was the first time I saw a model that I could relate to, and it helped me reach a happy place of acceptance with my body. She’s amazing at any size!

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How do you relax in your free time?
Usually just a bit of quiet time will do the trick! But if it has been a doozy of a day then I break into my collection of vintage silk robes. I’ll put one of those on and then make a cup of my favorite blueberry vanilla rooibos tea with a splash of oat milk. I started drinking it when I lived in Sweden and now it has become something that I make when I need that comfy coziness that I experienced while living there. It’s so important to me to always keep Sweden close, and that’s one of my favorite ways to do it! Whenever I go back for a visit, I buy about ten boxes so I’ll never run out. I’ve got that tea stockpiled!

Have any advice for aspiring models?
Ask me again in six months? I don’t consider myself an expert especially because I feel like I’m still getting a grasp on it all myself, so this question is a little difficult for me to answer. But I think the main thing I’m learning is that social media is your friend. I can’t really preach about it because I’m not as active online as I should be, but I’m trying to make more of an effort! But ladies, speaking as a photographer and closeted old lady, I’d like to add that just because a guy has a nice camera doesn’t mean he should take your picture. Use good judgment! Yes, ultimately it’s about you, but choose a photographer with good taste. Do you catch my drift?

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Are you still pursuing professional photography?
I stopped pursuing it once I moved to Sweden in 2012. There were other things that I wanted to focus on, like becoming acclimated with a new culture and lifestyle. Also I was terribly burned out with photography, so I decided that I’d only pick up my camera when I wanted to. It’s amazing once you make a decision like that! It’s kind of freeing actually. Eventually I found inspiration again and started using photography to document my life abroad. I allowed myself to really discover my voice as a photographer without the distractions of client demands and deadlines. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel the need to switch gears back into professional mode. I’m really happy just doing it for myself. Occasionally some really great opportunities come along and I take them, but I’ll never force it.

Favorite thing about your work?
So far I’ve always been challenged. There hasn’t been a day that I’ve breezed through a job, and I wouldn’t want it to be that way! Not yet, anyway. I like the feeling of leaving a set, tired and happy, knowing that I gave it my all. I’m helping a company show their designs, so I can’t do anything less than my absolute best! Another thing I love is being in the studio. I feel right at home with the lights and cameras, and I’m always interested to see how other photographers work. I’ve always done small studio setups for myself, so being in a proper studio is kind of my time to really geek out.

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Least favorite?
Despite the beauty at any size message that the plus size industry is promoting, there will always be a lot people in and out of that community that have no problem saying I’m not fat enough or I’m not “plus size”, that I’m not skinny enough, or something enough. I know that by putting myself out there, I’m opening the door to all kinds of discussions about my appearance, and I don’t mind that, but I want it to be headed in the right direction!  I’d like for us all to believe that every woman’s body is beautiful.  Nothing is wrong with them. We are enough, and that’s a wonderful thing! It frustrates me that women demand acceptance and respect, especially in regards to their bodies, but they don’t always give it to other women. We should stick together!

Tell us a surprising secret about yourself.
Eating peanut butter gives me chills and goosebumps from head to toe, but only on my left side.

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