Meet our newest Fit List inductee and #WCW, Faith Costa. This inspiring model and extremely talented artist is proving to the world that beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes, and that we are all most stunning when our inner beauty comes shining through. This is a don’t miss interview. To learn more, be sure to check out Faith’s awesome Instagram accounts, @faith_plusfashion and @faithcosta_originalartwork and her blog at faithcosta.com:
Growing up, did you ever think that you would become a model? How did it happen?
Never in a million years would I have ever thought that I would be a model, and not for the reasons that one might automatically think. Growing up I was a very thin little girl. It wasn’t until high school that my body and weight started to fluctuate and I then became aware of the unrealistic “standards” that society had set. I just never thought that being in the fashion industry was an option for me, even though I’ve always had a passion for it. In my head, I thought modeling was only for celebrities, fashion moguls, millionaires or a few very lucky people. I always assumed I would be an artist. My art always came first…Until I finally realized (not that long ago) that fashion and modeling IS art and that I could very clearly do both. After about six months of fashion blogging through Instagram, I entered a model search contest. Honestly, I didn’t expect to win, but I did. After that first photo shoot, I knew I needed to continue. Since then, I’ve been abundantly lucky to have jumpstarted my career by working with the most talented photographers, walking my first runway, collaborating with great plus size brands and getting signed with Bicoastal MGMT. The momentum hasn’t stopped and I hope that it wont any time soon. I can’t wait to see where this amazing, beautiful and new career takes me!
My art is a part of my soul. It is probably the most vulnerable thing that I could present to the world. I’ve always been one to try as many different mediums as possible. Oil painting, drawing, printmaking, jewelry making, illustrating, oil and chalk pastels, you name it! No matter the materials though, my two favorite and most inspirational things to create are flowers and skulls, which in hindsight seems like an unintentional theme of life and death. Lately I’ve been much more consistent with my illustration work and I love the style that I’ve developed with it. It’s dark and bold with a twist of eery beauty. I’ve always loved that when people see my art, they don’t realize that I’m personally the one that made it… That it doesn’t fit my “outer appearance.” It’s different. It’s a part of me that most people can’t see and my favorite way of expressing myself. I plan on making art for the rest of my life, and I hope that my style continues to change with time, just as it always has.
You’ve built up an awesome Instagram following. How did you do it?
Ah, yes! Instagram, my favorite form of social media! It all started a bit over a year ago after I had just learned about body positivity and all of these amazing up and coming plus size models and bloggers. I wanted a place for myself that I could post about not only my fashion, but my journey with body positivity, self love, mental health awareness and basically all the things that I feel strongly about. I made it while I was on vacation with my family and didn’t tell anyone about it, not even my friends. I almost had the intention and hope of not having any followers so that it would be a sort of vulnerable, yet personal space to express myself. Well, after a week or two, I ended up gaining over 1,000 followers. I had no idea how it happened or why but I was blown away at discovering this beautiful world wide community of people going through and sharing the same things I was! I then knew that I had to continue headstrong. A year later, to the day, I hit 30,000. I think the reason I’ve gained as many followers as I have (39,000 and counting at this point) is because I’ve been 100% authentic and true to myself… in addition to using and learning about hashtags, which are a great way to connect directly with people who want to express the same or similar content! I share the good days AND the bad. I share fashion and I share movements and campaigns that resonate with me and that I wholeheartedly support. I think that people like that.. that I let people know I’m human and that they are not alone. No matter the number of followers someone has, we are all still human. We all have our good days, and we all have days we wish went better. That’s my biggest message I think, that not ever day is easy, but every day is worth at least trying. I hope to continue using Instagram as a main platform to share my messages with as many people as possible. The more good we spread into the world the better. We are lucky enough this day in age to have the resources to instantly connect with millions of people all over the world. We need to use that power for good, and I’m proud to say that I do. #celebratemysize #bodypositive #selflove #plussizefashion #ootd #mentalhealthawareness #antibullying
How do you handle the naysayers and the trolls? How do you keep them from shaking your confidence?
I have been very lucky to have a very small number of “trolls.” It seems they come in waves every once in a while and I never know what it is that causes it. It breaks my heart to know that people have to deal with such hate every single day, with every single thing they post, undeservingly of course. For the times that I do get the hate, the naysayers, the trolls, it always hurts for a split second. Only a second, though. It hurts until I realize that any person who has or makes the time to use the internet to spew hate or negativity to complete strangers, can’t possibly be worth my time being upset about. I use my time and platforms to spread goodness and kindness and for every one person that is a “hater” I know there are at LEAST 30,000 people who are not. I don’t have time for any of that other stuff. I don’t want to spend time getting in “Instagram fights” with people who are commenting purely to cause a negative reaction or to push me to my limits in a bad way. There are cases of course I wish I would respond, write back and defend myself. I know a lot of people who do that on the daily and that is 100% fine. I personally, use the “delete and block” method. If someone sees my pages and reads what I write and still have the audacity to bully an “anti-bullying” advocate, they don’t need to see any of my future content or have any opportunities to contact me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and if you are respectful, thoughtful, and constructive, there shouldn’t be any problem. However, I have a zero-tolerance policy and will not stand to allow any form of bullying or harassment towards me or anyone on my social media. It will be deleted, blocked and reported. Plain and simple. If you are being cyber bullied, know that it is not personal as much as it might seem like it is. If someone is calling you names, harassing or threatening you, know that you don’t deserve that and that there are ways to handle it. Use your recourses however you see fit, but don’t let those words dim your light. Keep shining and be the example of kindness.
Body positivity is a very new concept for me and it’s something that I’ve had to learn. I’d say that the key to becoming body positive is knowing that you deserve it. You deserve to love yourself. You deserve to be comfortable in your own body. These are things that are sometimes easier said than done and they are things that I have to practice and remember every single day. I’ve had a life long struggle with accepting myself purely as is. Some days are harder than others, but that’s okay. It takes time to grow and develop that self love. Body positivity is not saying that one body is better or more beautiful than the other. Body positivity is knowing that all bodies are equally amazing and beautiful in their own way because literally no two bodies are the same. With that fact, I actively make sure that I don’t put myself down or put others down. A trick that I’ve learned is that every time you give someone a compliment, even if it’s just in your head (ex. “Their eyebrows are on point!” “Wow, I love her curves!” “OMG, her skin is glowing!” “Hey, I love your hair today!”) make sure to then give YOURSELF a compliment (ex. “I look fierce in this outfit today” “I love how my butt looks in these jeans!” “My hair is beautiful in this up-do!” “I love how my skin feels and how I did my makeup!” It’s going to be hard, but it is so worth it.
Recently you wrote on your blog about a moment when you made a brave bold move with a photo you posted on Instagram. Would you share a little about that with us?
Of course! That blog post you’re referring to is called “My First Steps…” and I called it that because I honestly felt like when it was a one of the first baby steps of my adult life. I pushed myself past my comfort zone that inevitably lead me to become a part of the body positive community and helped guide my self confidence, manifesting into my career now in the modeling world. The photo was seemingly an average “mirror selfie,” but it was so much more to me than that. It was the first time after creating my Instagram account that I really opened up about my journey and development with self love. I let myself be vulnerable but it was also probably the most empowering thing I ever did for myself. If I hadn’t made that first step, and shared that one picture, who knows if I would be where I am today. I don’t like to think about that, because I am so glad I did. I proved myself wrong and solidified that it was worth it to speak up and share my story. I’m grateful for that day I decided to push myself. As scary as it was, it changed my life for the absolute best. The last line in the original post is a quote from Awolnation that I happen to have tattooed on my arm, “Never let your fear decide your fate.” I think there was no better way to sum up that magically, terrifyingly defining experience.
What do you love and not love about social media?
I love that social media has given not only me, but so many others the opportunity to express themselves, share their stories and make progress in a constructive, rapidly growing, ever changing environment. Social media gives people a platform to keep in contact with family and friends but can also connect you people all over the world. I love that it can be a great escape from reality, a comic relief when used with silly memes or puppy videos, or just a daily news update. With social media, I’ve been given the opportunity to start a whole new career which I am forever grateful for. For others, it’s a place to launch their new businesses or share their non-profit organizations. I think, when utilized in a healthy way, social media is a great thing. Unfortunately, I think other times social media isn’t so great. It can be addicting to the point where you are no longer living in the moment. Being attached to a screen is no way to spend every waking hour. It can be draining and emotionally exhausting trying to keep up with all the different platforms and updating them each constantly so you are always “in the loop” or “relevant.” I admit to having had some of those bad habits from time to time. Checking Facebook 20 times a day, posting to Instagram daily, trying to keep your Snapchat story interesting and trendy, comparing yourself to others, hanging out with a friend but not actually spending time with them becasue you haven’t looked up from your phone once. It’s exhausting and can be damaging. So, it’s okay to love social media and to take advantage of it’s endless possibilities, I know I do, but don’t forget to take a break and breather every once in a while. Your brain and heart will thank you.
Tell us about modeling. Is it what you expected? What’s the hardest part?
I love modeling. It is nothing like how I expected it to be, and I’m completely okay with that! It’s such a great view into the fashion industry and it’s been fascinating to see how everything works. Modeling has directly given me the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people. Photographers, magazine editors, bloggers, other models… all of these incredibly hardworking passionate people all coming together for the love of fashion. It’s a beautiful thing! It can be hard at times though. I’ve had to get used to being front and center in a lot of situations, which has always been difficult for me. However, that’s what I love about modeling, is that I can push myself and try new things while in the process learning about myself and growing to do even more. For me though, the hardest part about modeling is getting used to everything being last minute. I have always been a “plan everything 6 months in advance” kind of person, but the fashion world does not work that way! It’s more of a “You need to be here, at this time, tomorrow!” It keeps it exciting though, that’s for sure! Plus, modeling is so much more than just wearing clothes and being in photos. Especially in the plus size industry, for me, It’s about being a face and a voice. I want to be a ROLE model. I want to be fierce. I want for some day, someone to look at me and say “If she can go through life, and have gone through all of those struggles and road bumps and still achieve her wildest dreams and live a happy life, so can I.”
Favorite quote or piece of inspirational advice?
My all time favorite quote is by Georgia O’Keeffe, who is my all time favorite artist, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” I think that it is the most inspirational thing in the world to, despite fears or handicaps, perceiver and live your life the way you want and unapologetically. I highly advise that if you have reservations about something, you think something might not work out the way you planned, or are scared to take a chance on a passion, just do it… It could be the best thing you ever did. Take a chance on yourself and live your life doing things that you love, despite how hard it might seem. I have been given almost every reason in the world to give up, and I take pride in the fact that I never have. I need you to know, that despite how life may seem at some points, you can still live the life you always dreamed of. If you want to paint, you can. If you want to travel the world, or start a business.. If you want to become a doctor or you want to become a teacher.. If you want to become a model, you can. It might be scary as hell, but don’t ever let it stop you from trying. Your life is worth fighting for. You are worthy of your happiest dreams.