Michelle de Villiers: IMG's Plus-Size Model

image11 - Michelle de Villiers: IMG's Plus-Size Model
Michelle de Villiers
Michelle de Villiers grew up in a small town called Mossel Bay and moved to Cape Town when she was 19years old. She was scouted by a modeling agency to be a plus size model. It’s been 7 years and she has been fortunate to see so much of the world. She has spent most of her time between airport layovers and eating.
Of course I was excited about the idea of being paid to eat.
– Michelle de Villiers

Welcome to TV Series Hub, how did you decide to join the modelling industry?

Thanks for having me! I come from a small town called Mossel bay. I attended a modeling school called Ace Models, where we had a show case at the end of the year. At the age of 19, I was scouted by agents and was asked to move to Cape Town and become a plus size model. I never really thought about being a model until that happened.
Did you move to Cape Town to get more exposure for yourself?
Yes. Booking jobs and meeting clients would only be possible if I was living in Cape Town, so I moved here.
How does the industry treat plus-size models?
In my opinion, we get treated the same as any other model. The concept of modeling stays the same, it’s just our size that differs. Straight size models have a certain size requirement that they need to meet, as do plus size models. We all jump through the same hoops and live the same struggle.
How do you go about breaking stereotypes about modelling?
I’m fortunate enough to have never run into any stereotypes. I’ve always been a believer that I am myself before I am my job, so stereotypes don’t phase me.
Self belief is one of the most important elements for the modelling industry. How do you gain such confidence to then be able to share it with others and inspire your fans & viewers (of your content)?
Like I said in my previous answer, I am myself before I am my job. You are so much more than what others think about you and you are so much more than what you do for a living. You are yourself and that is your power. Once you understand and live by that concept, confidence comes naturally. I just live for myself and if that strikes confidence and self love in others, all the better!
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Michelle de Villiers at the Cheetah Outreach in Cape Town, South Africa
How many countries and continents have you been to? Which one is your favorite place?
I’ve been on every continent, but I wish I had the opportunity to travel the East a little bit more extensively. My favorite country has to be Iceland. I was completely blown away by it’s untouched and raw beauty.
Traveling all the time may take a toll on a person. How do you find this side of your career? Does it ever get tiring?
It definitely does take its toll, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Traveling as a model can be isolating. You get to see all these amazing places, but don’t necessarily get to share these moments with someone. It has however given me the confidence to meet new people wherever I go.
How do you deal with jet-lag and fatigue from traveling? Any secrets which an infrequent flyer might not know?
I avoid drinking alcohol on the plane, drink lots of water and a headache tablet before the flight.
With a lot of competition in the industry, how do you maintain an edge over others? How do you treat your fellow peers?
I avoid trying to compete with others and always support my peers on the way to the top. Most of the girls I work with are friends of mine so it’s always great to see them on set. A friend of mine booking a job over me is fine, because it’s one more plus girl making a difference in the world.
How does on join the industry for aspiring models?
There are of course other ways of joining the industry, like being scouted, but the easiest would be to research agencies in your area and contact them directly.
Do you plan to remain a model throughout your entire life or would you be diversifying to other career paths?
The older you get, the more your priorities change and life will always direct you to where it wants you to be. I won’t be doing this for the rest of my life, as we all have a shelf life in this industry. The majority of my work lies in lingerie and within saying that, I might start my own lingerie line that is a little bit more inclusive.
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Michelle de Villiers in action.

How do you inspire women in terms of being a model and the use of social media?

Like I said earlier, I don’t like to compare myself to other people. I keep it light hearted and show other women that they only need live for themselves and do whatever makes them feel beautiful and happy.
How did your Instagram username come to be?
It’s a play on a friend’s nickname that has always stuck.
What has been your proudest moment of your career so far?
Being one of the first plus models to sign with a prestigious agency like IMG.
What is the most awkward moment of your career?
I shot with a client once that had asked me whether I was able to snow board. Being from South Africa, of course we don’t get to see much snow, but being an Aries, I also don’t back down from a challenge, so naturally I said yes. Cut to me watching YouTube tutorials on how to snow board while already standing on the slope. Thankfully it wasn’t a complete mess, but it definitely was awkward when I fell down the first few times and the client not sure why I was so rusty.
Thank you for joining us, lastly, what do you think of the current political situation of South Africa and the water crisis in Cape Town?
I believe in the power of the South African people in being able to come together and weather the storm. Thanks so much for having me! It’s been great chatting with you.

Michelle is mainly on Instagram but you can also find her on Twitter.