Benoni beauty set for New York cat­walk

Sunday Times - - NEWS - TANYA STEENKAMP

WELL-ROUNDED: Model and stu­dent An­gelique Oates LONG af­ter An­gelique Oates had given up on her child­hood dream of mod­el­ling, a chance en­counter on the streets of New York reignited her pas­sion for the run­way.

Now the blonde from Benoni is set to walk the ramp for the Full Fig­ured Fashion Week in New York next week.

“As a lit­tle girl I al­ways dreamt of be­ing a model and an ac­tress, but grow­ing up in South Africa it seemed out of reach. I also didn’t fit the ‘ideal’ body type for a model. So I put those dreams on hold,” said Oates, 25.

In 2015 she moved to the US to work as an au pair. What was sup­posed to be a short stint turned into an ex­tended stay and last year she was ap­proached on the streets of New York by a pub­li­cist.

“She asked if I was a model and when I said no she said she was a pub­li­cist and of­ten in­volved in cast­ings.

“She said I was beau­ti­ful and tall and would make an ideal plus­size model.”

She gave Oates a list of agen­cies to con­tact and ad­vice about how to go about it.

“To most peo­ple that would have been just a com­pli­ment, but be­cause I al­ways had that dream I started look­ing into it.

“One agency told me they liked my look but my pierc­ings were an is­sue and pre­vented them from sign­ing me.

“Af­ter speak­ing to a few peo­ple I started do­ing photo shoots and re­alised I don’t need an agency to be a model. That’s a com­plete myth. So I started mod­el­ling and be­ing my own agent.”

Not only will she walk the ramp at Full Fig­ured Fashion Week, which kicks off next week, but she is also booked for the New York Sum­mer Fashion Ex­plo­sion on June 24.

Now in its eighth year, Full Fig­ured Fashion Week hosts more than 20 events and run­way shows fea­tur­ing fashion from top re­tail­ers, bou­tiques and in­de­pen­dent de­sign­ers worn by 50 run­way mod­els.

This week, Full Fig­ured Fashion Week or­gan­iser Gwen DeVoe pub­licly wel­comed Oates to the 2017 team with a mes­sage on Face­book.

Oates as­pires to be a body-pos­i­tive icon like one of her idols, US model Ash­ley Gra­ham.

“I want to help peo­ple un­der­stand that body pos­i­tiv­ity is about ac­cep­tance of the body you have and em­brac­ing your flaws.

“Con­fi­dence comes from within and if I can help peo­ple find that hid­den con­fi­dence and beauty by stand­ing up for them in the me­dia, then that’s a small step to­wards be­com­ing the icon I want to be.”

Oates, who ad­mits she’s strug­gled with low self-es­teem be­fore, said: “I am con­tin­u­ously dig­ging deep within to find my con­fi­dence and the ma­tu­rity to han­dle sit­u­a­tions.”

She de­nied that be­ing a plus-size model was eas­ier than be­ing a tra­di­tional model.

The biggest myth is that plus-size mod­els can eat what­ever they want and never have to work out, she said.

Body pos­i­tiv­ity is about ac­cep­tance of the body you have and em­brac­ing your flaws. Con­fi­dence comes from within

“We are put to stan­dard and judged just as other mod­els. We may be big­ger in size but we are ex­pected to be healthy, toned and have good skin and hair.”

She also dis­pelled the myth that mod­els have noth­ing go­ing for them but their looks. She has a tourism man­age­ment de­gree from Unisa and is study­ing a global busi­ness course though Westch­ester Com­mu­nity Col­lege in New York.

“Once my stud­ies are fin­ished I will pur­sue mod­el­ling full time,” said Oates.

“My stud­ies are very im­por­tant to me and of­ten I have had to put them first, but be­ing in Full Fig­ured Fashion Week has def­i­nitely pushed me to take that step.”

Pic­ture: LORENSO

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