We had the pleasure to meet stunning model, Michelle Olson!
Keep reading to get an insight into her work with photographer
Heather Hazzan, keeping active and much more.
Photos of Michelle | Photography: Heather Hazzan, Styling: Calvy Click, @IMG Models
Phylyda celebrates diversity & body positivity: What do your differentiating physical traits signify to you? I’ve always been a very active person so I love that I’m tall and strong and my body has allowed me to do the things I love like volleyball, basketball, snowboarding, surfing, biking, hiking and more! Beauty to me is being happy with who you are as a person.
How can we help young women grow up with less body image pressures? I think having hobbies is important, spending quality time with your loved ones, and putting the phone down once in a while! I’m a bit old school and think that social media is doing more harm than good and comparing your life to someone’s glamorized and probably photoshopped life is unhealthy and nothing beats real life experiences. I sometimes delete the Instagram app on my phone for a little break once in a while when I realize I’ve been wasting too much time on it. There’s always so many other things you can be doing or learning!
Is there a woman who has made a difference in your life and what’s the story behind that? I can’t say there is just one, but I’m lucky to have grown up with many strong women in my life including my mother, sister, and all of my friends that have supported and encouraged me throughout my life.
You are a successful model which poses you in the privileged position to become a role model for thousands of women: can you tell us what motivates you and what challenges you are experiencing on your own path? I’ve always been motivated by the push for more size diversity in fashion. I’m inspired when designers use a curve girl for the first time or when new designers emerge for curvy girls. I’m happy to know that young girls can see other sizes and know that they don’t need to be a size 2 to be beautiful and healthy. Lately I’ve been struggling with social media and how I can see the negative effects it has on people in my life more than I can see the positive. Instagram can be a good platform to promote things like body positivity, but I think it has become more of a ranking of how valuable someone is, like how many followers you have is related to your worth. Personally I would rather not use it, but I’m trying to just be myself and post what I like and if there are any girls out there (or boys) who come across my page I hope it can show them that we come in a range of sizes, and we don’t have to let that dictate what we do with our lives.
You seem to be very outdoorsy and athletic in your free time: when and where do you feel most at ease in a swimsuit? I have spent so much time in my life in a suit or lingerie that it usually doesn’t phase me unless I just ate a whole pizza and can’t move or something! I know that I’m not perfect, but I’ve accepted my body and love being at the beach more than caring what I look like at it. I love to surf, play volleyball, be with friends and that’s all more important!
What piece of advice would you like to give to your sisters and female friends to help them surmount insecurities about their physique if you could only give one? I would say take care of your body it’s the only one you get! When we treat our body good with healthy food and staying active, we feel good. We also have to remember that we are all our own worst critic and can say some ridiculous things about ourselves that simply aren’t true! Learn to love the things that make you unique and don’t ever let your insecurities stop you from experiencing things.
Heather Hazzan photographed you for this beautiful story on the beach. She is becoming known as a rare breed of fashion photographers, actively changing our perception of a modern beauty without standards. Can you tell us about your relationship to her and maybe any takeaways from this shoot in particular? I’ve shot with Heather a few times now and every time I’m reminded how amazing she is! She is someone who can really make you feel good about yourself, while shooting she is very complementary and excited when she likes something. Everything feels so laid back, and she has a good eye so you know when she is directing an idea that has come up it’s going to look good.
So many women do not feel at ease because of the shatteringly unattainable beauty standards that are imposed on us. - How do you gather confidence, what makes you feel confident? I think a big part of my confidence comes from how I grew up in Wisconsin because we were told to value ourselves for who we are rather than what we look like, that who you are as a person, your humility, and how you treat others are more important so I focused on that and the things I liked to do rather than obtaining a certain look. Today, with the added pressure of social media and working in an industry where we aren’t really supposed to be humble I continue to tell myself that those things truly are more important. I also take care of myself and eat healthy and workout because then I feel healthy and usually confidence comes from that, too.