September 12, 2018

Introducing our September Muse of the Month – Sydney Ness, @sydney.ness. International model, avid adventurer, mental health activist - Sydney does it all. Perhaps best known for making waves in the modeling industry, this Wisconsin-born beauty’s career is just getting started. But don't let her job description fool you - she's as down-to-earth as it gets. We’re in awe of everything she represents - confidence, kindness, femininity, hard work and happiness - and jumped at the chance to chat with her about the body positivity movement, her favorite confidence-boosting tricks and her passion for the outdoors.  

I hope you enjoy learning more about Sydney, and be sure to follow along on her adventures! XO, Crista

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An Interview with Criscara Muse, Sydney Ness

Sydney Ness Interview Plus Size Model Interview

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You’re taking the modeling industry by storm! Tell us a bit about you and how you got where you are.

I always think it’s so funny to hear people say that because I still feel like I’m trying to figure this whole modeling thing out sometimes! But I appreciate that so much, thank you. I had some family friends growing up that were insisting that I started modeling. Both of my parents were very hesitant to let me start because of the bad reputation modeling can have. I met a few different agencies in the midwest during open calls. In 2009 I signed with Ford Models in Chicago. They asked me to sign as a “Junior Plus Model”. At the time, plus size wasn’t really an industry. There were girls who were working in the industry but the fashion definitely wasn’t there. I remember one of my very first shoots, it literally looked like I was wearing my grandma’s clothes because there just wasn’t a huge push for cute, plus size clothing.

I ended up taking a trip out to NYC for a week in the fall of 2010 and I loved the city. I’m from a very small town in Wisconsin (about 5,000 people) and this was my first time spending time in a big city! In 2011 I spent two months by myself in New York City when I was 16 years old. Things didn’t go as well as I thought they would and I started to get discouraged. I was still modeling in Wisconsin and Chicago but I kind of set New York City aside. After I graduated high school, I decided to go to college to pursue a Nursing Degree. After just one semester I moved back to Madison and decided to go to the technical college there and live at home. This entire time I wasn’t really happy but I thought I was doing the right thing because where I’m from, everyone goes to college and I thought I also had to do that. I ran out of money to pay for college so I decided to take a semester off and work random jobs. When I say random jobs, I mean completely random. I was working as a bartender at a country club, I was a dental assistant, I was working customer service and sales at a ski resort, I had a few other bartending jobs and I was still modeling from time to time. I remember this like it was yesterday- I was on set and I was talking to my hair and makeup artist about what I was supposed to do with my life. I knew I wanted to move and really give modeling another good try but I knew I didn’t want to go back to New York City.

He told me about this woman named Katie Willcox who had started her own plus size modeling agency in Los Angeles! He forced me to call her off of his phone and introduce myself (I would LOVE to hear that awkward voicemail). Shortly after this phone call I actually met Katie while she was working in Milwaukee too! I loved everything that she stood for and I knew that I wanted to move to Los Angeles, despite everyone else telling me it was a horrible idea and it would ruin my career. Hindsight is always 20/20 vision. Looking back, I was able to see how everything perfectly fell into place for me to move to Los Angeles and meet the people who would eventually lead me to where I am now. If it wasn’t for Katie, I would probably still be in Wisconsin and would have given up on modeling. She taught me so much about the modeling industry, self-love and body positivity. I’m now signed in Los Angeles with Natural Models, New York City with Wilhelmina Models, and Germany with OKAY Models. I couldn’t be more excited to see where this next year will lead me.

Sydney Ness Model

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You’re represented by Natural Models, an agency known for encouraging they models to live a happy and healthy life, regardless of shape or size. Do you consider yourself a body positive activist?

I’ve struggled with what I see in the mirror my entire life. About five years ago I lost 55 pounds in three months. Mentally, that was the lowest point I’ve ever been at in my life. Everyone kept telling me how great I looked and inside I hated what I saw in the mirror. I eventually got back on track through the help of family, friends, and therapy. There’s sometimes where I truly do love my body and I’m so grateful for it. There’s other times I look at myself and it’s easy to slip back into old ways of thinking. For me it’s a constant daily choice to choose to be grateful for what I have instead of obsessing over things about my body that I can’t change. Growing up I was always much taller than everyone else. I’m almost 6’ tall now and as a girl growing up, it wasn’t always easy. I remember a friend of mine (who is almost a foot shorter than me now) telling me when we were in high school that she wore a size 4 jean. At the time, I was wearing an 8 and I remember feeling like something was really wrong with me for having the biggest jean size out of my friend group. I didn’t realize that we have completely different body types and it was normal for be to be a bigger size since I was so much taller and had a larger build.

There wasn’t the body diversity in the media like there is today and that’s what I want to change. I want to see beautiful men and women of all shapes and sizes being represented in the media because that’s what people actually look like. Health and beauty come in all shapes and sizes. Do I consider myself a body positive activist? Honestly, not really - I would consider myself a mental health activist. If you’re not happy with yourself, no amount of changing your body will fix what’s on the inside and how you feel about yourself. I believe that if you’re happy on the inside, it will show on the outside. I’m now a size 12 and I feel more confident with who I am as a woman than I was when I was a size 4 five years ago. Size is just a number!

"I believe that if you’re happy on the inside, it will show on the outside."

Body Positive Interview

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What advice do you have for those looking to be more body confident?

There have been mornings where I literally have to stand in front of the mirror and say out-loud things that I love or appreciate about my body. For example, I can say I’m grateful that I get to go on really cool hikes or I love how strong I am. I think that starts with expressing more gratitude in life in general. How you talk to yourself is the biggest deciding factor on how you feel about you. Do you speak to yourself with love? Or do you say you’ll never be able to do it. You’ll never be able to run a mile, you’ll never be able to fit into those jeans, you’ll never look like your best friend…. I could go on and on.

Instead try this:

-I’m not able to run a mile today, but what can I do right now to help me achieve that goal? Maybe that’s just walking a mile for now!

-I’m not able to fit into those jeans right now, but I can love myself in the process of getting there. Personally I don’t believe that size should ever be a goal because size is just a number. However, I know many people that use size as a goal while hitting the gym or trying to eat healthier. I feel more confident at a size 12 than I did at a size 4!

-Nope, I don’t look like my best friend. But guess what? She doesn’t look like me either! Beauty comes in all forms. Another person’s beauty will never take away from yours! Always empower one another and support each other.

Sydney Ness Model

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Do you have any favorite self-care or self-love tips you can share with us?

I am definitely someone who needs their alone time! I love my friends and family and I love people. But I often find myself very overwhelmed when I don’t take the time to unwind and take care of myself. That could be something as simple as taking a bubble bath or as extreme as taking a vacation by myself! It’s definitely something I’m still working on but I’ve been trying to listen to what my body and soul is telling me that I need. If that’s canceling plans with friends to stay home and relax, then that’s what I have to do. Never feel guilty for doing what’s best for you as long as your intentions are good!

"Never feel guilty for doing what’s best for you as long as your intentions are good!"

Fashion Model Interview

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Any fun facts we should know about you?!

I love being outside! I grew up going to Canada every year to go fishing and go camping on the lake. I love skiing, snowboarding, camping, hiking, if it’s outside - I’m definitely interested! I tore my ACL from a ski accident a few years ago and I’m trying to learn to snowboard! I love taking vacations by myself, turning off my phone, and disconnecting. I think it’s really important to disconnect from everything every once in a while and refocus!

Scotland Photography Model

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How would you describe your personal style?

Definitely very, very basic! I’ve always been the girl just to wear a t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. I think that originated from not loving how my body looked growing up. I would always wear oversized t-shirts to cover myself. I still do that now, but it’s because I find it most comfortable instead of trying to hide! I love the simplicity of just throwing a t-shirt and comfy jeans on, throwing my hair in a ponytail and minimal makeup!

Body Positivity Movement

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What advice would you have for someone who wants to change up or experiment with their style?

Go for it! Whatever makes you feel confident and beautiful - wear it! I think so often we are scared to change things up because of what other people will think of us. If you want to wear something that makes you feel confident, beautiful and is respectful to yourself - you’ll never go wrong!

Beach Model Photoshoot

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What are your favorite pieces of Criscara jewelry?

I honestly don’t wear jewelry that often - my style is very basic! I love the very simple earrings because they can be worn with so many different outfits. I also love the basic necklaces. Their simplicity is so beautiful.

Sydney Ness Model

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What’s coming up next for you that you’re most excited about?

I just signed with an agency in Germany! I’m so excited to start working over there and being able to travel to Europe more! I also just booked my first beauty campaign for Buxom Cosmetics that is shooting in New York City. I’ve wanted a beauty campaign my entire modeling career! When I was younger, people used to call me a duck and make fun of my lips and now they just booked me my dream job!

Instagram Influencer Model

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Where can people learn more about you and follow along?

I have mixed feelings about social media. I love being able to meet new people and answer questions about the industry! But I try to limit how often I check my social media during the day. I really only use Instagram (@sydney.ness) because I love being able to just post a quick picture and I feel like I’m able to connect more with people through Instagram. I am also going to try to start a youtube channel or blog by the end of the year to talk more about these topics!

Sydney Ness Photoshoot

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Photo Credits
Cover Image - Photo Credit: Dazey LA. Photo 1 - Photographer: Megan Taylor, Makeup: Sparkle Tafao. Photo 2 - Photo Credit: Sydney Ness. Photo 3 - Photographer: Megan Taylor, Makeup: Sparkle Tafao. Photo 4 - Photo Credit: Dazey LA. Photo 5 - Photographer: Megan Taylor. Photo 6 - Photo Credit: Sydney Ness. Photo 7 - Photographer: Brooke Shemaria, Hair and Makeup: Meaghan M Flaherty. Photo 8 - Photographer: Megan Taylor. Photo 9 - Photo Credit: Good American, Hair: Darbie Wieczorek, Makeup: Melissa Hernandez. Photo 10 - Photographer: Megan Taylor. Photo 11 - Photographer: Megan Taylor, Makeup: Sparkle Tafao.


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