ONE GIRL'S ADVENTURES IN FASHION, FOOD, BEAUTY and BEYOND
Carrie: Hi Erin! I am so impressed with how you handled the competition on America’s Next Top Model with grace, dignity, and of course, limitless talent. How did you first get into modeling?
Erin: I was sought out to do runway, but I wasn’t too confident that I could make it. The beauty standards set for girls in the modeling industry had always been pale skin, an ultra-thin look, protruding hip bones, zero curves, and a youthful face. LOL...that didn’t represent me at all when I was in my early 20’s, but I didn’t let that take away my passion for the runway. Someone told me to take a risk and use my flaws as assets that make me unique. So I continued to pour my heart and soul into building my modeling foundation, despite all the odds, and go after my dream of becoming a supermodel.
Carrie: I’m so glad you did because look where it got you! You competed on America’s Next Top Model! What was that like?
Erin: When I went on the show, I was determined to prove that an older woman could be “next-level fierce” and defy the standards of beauty. “You’re too old to model” have been some of the sharpest words used to cut me down in the modeling industry. But if I continued to harbor those words, then I wouldn’t be embracing all the strength that God has given me to be great.
Carrie: Tyra was also a huge supporter of you competing alongside these younger girls.
Erin: Tyra wanted to demonstrate to the world that the more women accept themselves for what they were born with, the closer we are to changing the standard definition of beauty. Whether you’re short, older, tatted, a minority, have been through a traumatic experience, or have been diagnosed with a rare skin or hair disorder, there’s no need to hide. You’re beautiful just the way you are--beauty is being yourself and accepting all of your assets. Tyra is proving that with her show, and this cycle has chosen all walks of life to help people see and realize that. She is breaking down barriers and showing the world that when you walk in your truth, you are free and fearless...and that’s beauty.
Carrie: Did you feel a special connection with Tyra since you’re closer in age?
Erin: I truly felt a special connection with Tyra when she gave me the chance to be the 15th contestant during the 1st episode. She told me that I had to work just as hard, if not harder, to prove myself to girls half my age. I wish, though, that we had more moments to bond and share each other’s opinions about the industry. However, I’m so grateful that the #BossLady gave me the opportunity to be on her show, and the time we did spend together was time well spent. I learned a lot of important lessons from her that I will never forget.
Carrie: I bet. Now, how about the girls? Who were your closest friends in the house?
Erin: Shanice, Brendi K, Jeana, Rio, and Khrystyana. I was able to connect with those young ladies because they really own the truth to their stories. The ones that have gone through adversity had an emotional intelligence that was extremely genuine, which I was drawn to. I’m not saying that the other girls were fake or incapable of emotional intelligence, but it was easier for me to connect with those specific girls on a more mature level.
Carrie: Did you ever find it harder to connect with them because of the age gap?
Erin: Yes, it was harder because I was often seen as a mother figure and not as competition.
Carrie: Speaking of motherhood, what is it like simultaneously being a mom and a model? Is it challenging?
Erin: Motherhood prepared me to be a model. The modeling industry needs you to have tough skin, and because I am raising children that face social issues every day, like negative body images, bullying, etc., I had to show them that despite the negativity in the world, you always have to be the best version of yourself. As a model, I am defying the odds and pushing past the impossible. I am not limiting myself to believe what society has told me to be, but exceeding my potential of endless possibilities.
Carrie: Often it can be really difficult to push past society’s standards. What was the most challenging part about being on ANTM?
Erin: Being able to clear my mind and ignore all distractions and fears. It was difficult to try and be free of all negative doubts. But being in a house filled with young adults in their 20’s helped me tap into my younger self, turn off the mother and wifey role, and just live in the moment. I sometimes lost myself a bit and forgot that I would have children watching me at home when the show airs! But letting go of distractions has definitely given me a new lease on life. I have learned to take risks and most importantly, to go after my dreams.
Carrie: And going after your dreams can be a blast! What was your favorite challenge on ANTM and why?
Erin: The throwback-comeback episode with the bubble runway challenge was my favorite. Not only did I get the opportunity to get back into the competition, but I proved that I know how to slay on a runway. Plus, it was my first time winning anything on the show!
Carrie: That’s amazing! Can you talk a bit about what it was like walking down that bubble runway?
Erin: We had to walk down a nine-inch runway in a bubble, just like the models did during cycle seven of ANTM. But it was kind of symbolic, in a way. In order to achieve your goals in life, you have to be focused, driven, and plant one foot in front of the other to get somewhere. You’re going to have distractions, whether they be yourself or naysayers. Being in that bubble surrounded by flashing lights was the distraction at that point in time. But I didn’t allow that to stop me!
Carrie: You go, girl! I was so impressed when I saw you kill that challenge. What do you think was the biggest lesson you learned as a contestant?
Erin: I have experienced many transitions along my journey that have helped shape my life and give it purpose. On the show, I allowed my mindset to believe that a 42-year-old like me could stomp out the competition if she works hard for what she wants.
Carrie: I also find it amazing how you find the greater purpose of modeling. How do you use it as a positive platform?
Erin: By empowering others to be the best version of themselves! I co-founded a non-profit organization with my twin sister called Twin of A Kind Foundation, dedicated to promoting youth empowerment and empowering young adults to see their true potential in life. We provide one-on-one or group experiences teaching others how to overcome some of life’s most difficult social issues.
Carrie: That’s incredible! What advice can you give to people who struggle with insecurities and fail to see their own beauty?
Erin: It starts with erasing the conversations with ourselves that push the idea that it’s all about how we look, rather than what we’re made of. Who you are enhances your beauty, and you need to own it. After all, beauty is confidence. I want to encourage individuals that beauty is more than looks and sizes. It is made up of your wit, your charm, your attitude. How you see life, how you see yourself, how you fight adversity, and how you overcome life’s challenges also contributes. So does the way you laugh, the way you carry yourself, and the way you embrace your flaws. Real beauty is measured in who you are in your entirety.
Carrie: For sure. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Erin. I’m sure that you have inspired a lot of people with your empowering words!