Jasmine Sanders hopes to use her success as a mixed-race model to inspire others and break down tired industry barriers.
At 24 years old, Jasmine Sanders is just your typical South Carolina-bred girl. Except she’s not at all. After over a decade in the modelling industry, Sanders’ career continues to torpedo to new heights – this year alone she walked for Jeremy Scott and was the face of Aldo’s SS15 campaign. She’s also ranked amongst the likes of Miranda Kerr and Jourdan Dunn in the 2015 Maxim Hot 100 List. Add to that the fact that she’s become something of a social media sensation, and it seems no hyperbole to compare Sanders’ ascent to that of one of her fashion heroes, Ms Tyra Banks.
Although Sanders found her vocation at an early age – when her make-up artist mother took her to a modelling agency, she was signed on the spot – her genetic predisposition was not always seen as a plus. Standing at 5’ 9”, the half African American, half German model was initially rejected by her classmates. “Being a mixed girl growing up in the South isn’t the easiest all the time,” she says. “Also running to New York every other weekend to finish a job, that’s not normal for every South Carolina girl in high school.”
The bullying eventually subsided, but Sanders developed a thick skin toward haters, something that would come in handy when dealing with online trolls, an unfortunate but unavoidable side effect of social media adoration. “I know how it is to be a teenager behind the computer and be so passionate about a conversation,” the model explains. “I don’t want the bullying to go back and forth, so if I need to jump in and stop it, I will. I have.”
Sanders, who goes by the moniker Golden Barbie, carries undeniable clout on social media, where her Instagram following alone recently ticked past the one million mark, something she seems aware of without sinking into selfaggrandisation. So, what inspired the nickname? “I used to be called Goldilocks in high school by one of my teachers because there were some boys in my class that would bother me all the time. Golden came from that,” Sanders recalls. Barbie because of how often people remarked that she looked like a life-sized version of the doll. And for good reason, with Sanders’ flowing mane and impossibly tiny waist, the resemblance is undeniable.
Although no doubt blessed by Mother Nature, Sanders can also attribute her tiny waist to the fact that she is a huge fitness junkie. She credits, pre-workout dance parties with her new puppy, long hours at the gym and dropping dairy from her diet as a few of the reasons she went from curvier (“a little more butt, a little more boobs,” as she puts it) to her current super-toned self. Still, she’s only human, and won’t deny herself the occasional fast food indulgence.
When asked about her inclusion in Maxim’s Hot 100, Sanders is quick to laud not herself, but her fellow models. “The whole thing was a complete surprise,” she says. “Candice Swanepoel – I’m trying to get my body like hers. To be a part of that group was an absolute honour.” If that wasn’t enough, Sanders also walked for Jeremy Scott (“such a sweetheart”) earlier this year. “I still freak out,” she says. “I still call home to my mom. I was just at the mall with her this weekend and we saw one of my ads. It’s a proud feeling to look over at my mom and tell her ‘Hey, look, I’m starting to make things happen.’ I’m determined to use this momentum. I want to be all over the place.”
Speaking on her eclectic personal style, Sanders is equally all over the place: “I used to be very tomboyish. I had every Jordan, every Chuck Taylor. I love to be able to dress like a tomboy but also be colourful while doing so. I like getting in pretty gowns and dresses and tight things or changing it up or going more androgynous than the fancy Golden Barbie that everyone always knows me as, or just wiping everything and going clean.”
Sanders wants to buoy the success of the last few years into more campaigns, more runway shows, more more more. She’s keen to use her good fortune to propel her career along, even hinting that acting may be in her future as well as developing her own clothing and make-up lines.
“I’m excited for the future,” she says with unfettered assuredness.