As part of our Keep On Being You series, we caught up with full-time model @pollyellens for our #InYourOwnSkin campaign. Polly is a full-time freelance model with beautiful and striking freckles on her face. Read her story about how she learnt to be happy and confident #InYourOwnSkin.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Polly, I’m a freelance model and I started modelling properly about 4 or 5 years ago. I started by doing bits and bobs, but then it really kicked off and my Instagram kind of snowballed so I went into it full time a few years ago.
What made you want to take part in the shoot today?
Not only is Missguided such great brand, a lot of women shop their clothes and see the girls that are portrayed and represented in their images. It was a bit of a surprise that a big brand is pushing forward the message of empowerment and body positivity. Using unretouched images is a real step forward and something quite unique.
What does body positivity mean to you?
It means being 100% comfortable in yourself, it’s not just the outside but also the inside. I think we focus a lot on how people look, which comes with modern life and social media but also girls are more self-aware and more comfortable with how they are naturally. Whether that’s stretch marks, acne, body hair or no makeup, I think it’s becoming a huge movement and I think it’s really positive.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My mum, when I was younger she was so liberal and forgiving and we could be anyone we wanted to be. In hindsight, if anything had been different she probably would’ve supported it anyway. Even my nan was quite similar which is surprising considering she comes from an older generation. The women in my family have been very secure and I might not be the woman I am today if they weren’t like that.
What is beauty to you?
Beauty is being completely comfortable with yourself whether that’s being aesthetically beautiful, or your spirit and your attitudes towards life. Anything positive you exude from yourself is beautiful.
Do you have a life mantra?
I’m really bad at taking my own advice! My mum always said ‘just do whatever the f*ck you want’. As long you’re not causing any pain or damage.
What does female empowerment mean to you?
It’s not just about being equal, it’s about being self-aware, confident and happy as a woman. Things are changing and it’s good that things are changing. It’s not about being better, some people don’t understand that we just want to have the same rights and opportunities. It makes me really frustrated but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. Brands like Missguided empowering a range of women is a great step forward.
What advice would you say to your younger self?
It’s going to be fine, if I hadn’t had tried to fake tan and cover my freckles then I wouldn’t know that actually, I didn’t want to do that. I did worry a lot and with that, I’d just say ‘do what you want to do, but it will be fine’.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Always be nice. There’s never an excuse for bad behaviour. There never an excuse to be rude, mean or hateful. We all do it sometimes, no ones perfect but we should be aware of that in a lot of situations. Being constantly jealous, hateful and envious can be soul destroying. It’s also the cause for some women’s issues when women are put against other women. We need to turn that into women supporting women.
What album are you loving right now / what’s on your current playlist?
I’m loving Cardi B at the moment. She’s come out of nowhere and she’s done so well. She has the most amazing attitude and seemingly hasn’t changed or compromised herself in any way shape or form. It’s great to watch her succeed with that attitude.
Who’s your ultimate style icon?
I am really loving Bella Hadid, she’s nailing it right now. The cut-out shirts, the casual meets classic styling is really unusual but I’m loving it.
What outfit would you wear for the rest of your life?
It would have to be a onesie! they’re practical, they’re comfortable and you’ll never be cold! I’d scrap the heels and wear a onesie forever.
What do you think the fashion industry could do more of to empower women?
Again it’s big brands like Missguided not photoshopping women or portraying women in the public eye as these ‘perfect’ creatures who young girls look up to.
What is one thing you’re most proud of?
That’s a difficult one, I have so many things that I’m not proud of! I’m really proud of getting into a really good school when I was younger, I worked so hard for it and it was such a shock! I got into a really good grammar school and it was such a good thing for me, I met some amazing lifelong friends there. It was an all-girls school and it completely paved the way for me.
Who should we be following on Instagram right now?
One of my favourite accounts is a photographer called @harisnukem I work with him quite a lot. I also know him as a personal friend but he takes some incredible photos. Not just that but he really is creatively amazing, he tends to shoot girls who are comfortable in their own skin. I think people can get confused and think that nudity equals pornography when it doesn’t! He wants to portray women as powerful, all-consuming creatures that are something to be reckoned with. He really does capture that with his style.
What are you working on for 2018?
I’d like to travel more with work if I can, generally work really hard. I want to start making a life for myself in London but also see more of the world for sure!