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The Beauty of Being Ourselves

Supermodel Sarah DeAnna on Self-Confidence

by April Thompson

Sarah DeAnnaLongtime supermodel Sarah DeAnna believes in our ability to shape both our life—and our looks. Raised by a single mom in the small farm town of Jefferson, Oregon, DeAnna made her way to Los Angeles after putting herself through college, earning a degree in international business marketing from Oregon State University, in Corvallis. While she planned to pursue a graduate degree in business at the University of California, a chance meeting with a photographer at a Hollywood café instead launched her career as an international fashion model, realizing a childhood dream.

This natural health trendsetter has since appeared in Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire, and walked the runway for such internationally renowned designers as Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Stella McCartney. DeAnna credits her success to her commitment to modeling a healthy, balanced lifestyle. In her new book, Supermodel You, she debunks myths about modeling, fitness and beauty, explaining how beauty emanates from the inside out.

How does self-awareness bring out one’s natural beauty?

Self-awareness starts with being aware of your actions and their effects. For example, if you’re not paying attention to what you eat and how you feel afterward, you won’t realize that your body may be sending you signals about the quality of what you’re eating.

How you walk also affects your body in more ways than you realize. Being alert to little things that may be throwing you off balance—like carrying more weight on one foot or turning a foot out when you walk—are small steps to developing self-awareness.

When a Harvard University study informed a group of hotel housekeepers that didn’t consider themselves physically active that they were actually exercising all day long, they all lost weight. The only difference was their awareness of their work as exercise.

Why do you believe that models that follow less severe diets and workout regimens are better off?

Restrictive extremes put enormous stress on your body, which is a leading cause of unhealthy weight gain. When I first started out, I didn’t know that I was eating too little and working out too much and too hard. Then my agent told me to ease my exercise and start eating some healthy fats again, which the body needs. When I stopped overdoing it, I both felt better and achieved my target weight.

There isn’t any one kind of diet or exercise practice that’s right for everyone; it’s all about having a positive relationship with food and your body.

What are some of your favorite tips for getting a good night’s sleep?

I make sleep a priority, even if it means missing out on late night fun. Tune in to what is keeping you awake, whether it’s what you are reading, watching or eating before bedtime, and change it. Creating a sleep ritual is helpful; I light candles and lower music in the house to wind down long before when I want to be asleep.

How do models manage to look like a million bucks on a modest income while they await their big break?

Confidence is the most beautiful thing. Good posture makes you look thinner and better-looking. It’s not the number of pounds that matter; you know before you step on the scale if you are happy with the way you look and feel.

As for fashion, it’s not just what you wear, but how you wear it. How clothes fit is important. We all have different shapes, and even models will have “muffin tops” if the pants aren’t hitting their hips in the right place. Rather than focus on size, focus on how garments look on you.

You’ve been told that you aren’t “commercially beautiful”. How can each of us reframe the way we think about our own appeal?

I’m sometimes told I’m too edgy-looking or too strong-featured. But as my agent says, if everyone liked me, I would just be ordinary. You need to love whatever is different about you. Cindy Crawford has a noticeable mole; Tyra Banks has a large forehead. These models turned such “flaws” into personal trademarks that set them apart.

The industry can be unkind to older models. What lessons have you learned from watching your predecessors?

The modeling business is finally realizing that society wants to see more natural-looking women, so they are bringing back the older supermodels, and they look amazing. We are even seeing models in their 80s now as an awesome positive representation of older women. It’s all about having a positive outlook and embracing who and what you are.

Connect with freelance writer April Thompson at AprilWrites.com.

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