with Naomi Holt

Oct 11, 2020

Naomi K Holt is an Australian model with a first class honours degree in Psychology. Now a published academic author, Naomi created Mind the Model as a space where mental health, self-care and body celebration can thrive. Naomi’s personal Instagram account highlights what really happens behind the scenes when pursuing a modelling career. We love her fun and bubbly personality. We sat down with her in this edition to discover more about her work and how she promotes body celebration.

Naomi thanks for sitting down with us today. You have modelled for more than 10 years now, modelling for some of Australia’s most recognisable brands. You were even a national finalist in the 2017 Miss Universe Australia! What made you want to get into modelling?

I think I was always told when I was younger that “you could be a model”. I was lucky enough to give it a go. I didn’t really understand what I was getting into until I started landing the work. Modelling is often portrayed to be a glamorous job, but in all honestly there are days where I can be wearing the same t-shirt in 7 different colours and posing in the same positions multiple times. There were so many skills that I had to learn. Knowing my body, angles, lighting, and being comfortable in front of a camera. How to hold myself and what worked for the clothes. It can be a very physical role.

With shoes for example, often creating the best shot for shoes, usually involves being in the most uncomfortable position your body can be in. Not natural. It looks awesome, but often you can be in a deep squat for 10 mins in high heels while trying to hide the pain in your face.  

Has the modelling industry changed over the years and if so, how?

It’s changed in 2 really big ways.

First, it’s becoming a lot more diverse and acceptable of different sizes. When I first started modelling, I was skinnier than what I am now and I was told to lose an inch around my hips, or I wouldn’t work. I couldn’t do it. I physically couldn’t lose any more weight. Now, I am bigger than I have ever been, yet I work more. The industry wants girls who look healthy and fit, and not like a skeleton. That’s a real positive change. Diversity in ethnicity and sexual orientation is another positive change the industry is beginning to accept.

The other big game changer was Instagram. It completely changed the industry. Now you don’t actually need to be a model to model. Brands will often choose influencers with large followers to model their campaigns. I no longer need to take comp cards or folios to castings, because the clients will just look at my Instagram.

Does that mean to be a successful model, you need to have a large following on Instagram?

It probably depends on the agency that signs you. My agent Flick from The Talent Büro, is amazing and I’ve watched her take undiscovered girls because she has an eye for it. She knows what her clients are looking for. She has certainly discovered talent with little following on Instagram that have gone on to do big campaigns.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a modelling career or someone maybe just starting out in the industry?

Have something else you love. If it’s the only thing you do, don’t tie your self-worth to modelling. You will get rejected. If you base your self-worth on your ability to model or to win work, then you will feel sh#t.

The biggest thing that helped my mental health when I was modelling was when I discovered psychology. As I began to study Psychology, it became the thing I loved. Modelling became something that I did (which I still love) but it wasn’t the only thing I had. For others, modelling can be the only thing you do, but have other activities that bring joy into your life and know that your self-worth comes from within.

You mention rejection. How did you handle the rejection that comes with not being cast for a particular job, knowing that the rejection is based solely from your appearance?

Honestly, I probably wasn’t handling it well when I first started my career. I didn’t have good coping mechanisms. I was just feeling sh#t. Often I would go to 10 castings over a month and secure 1 job. That means you have to handle being rejected multiple times based off nothing but your appearance. Starting out it was a real mind-fcuk. (excuse my language!)

Then I had to learn the process of finding other things I loved and not tying my self-worth to modelling. I lowered my expectations when attending castings. I needed to learn that the rejection was more about what the client was looking for, for their brand, than me personally.

You launched Mind the Model 3 years ago now. Tell us more about this initiative?

Mind the Model is a community where people can openly talk and share ideas about self-care, mental health, and body celebration. It’s really a safe place where people can share their stories and read other people’s stories to be empowered by them. It originally started as my personal blog that gave me the opportunity to talk about both modelling and psychology. I then rebranded it and focused on creating a place where other people’s stories can be shared which has helped it become a lot more impactful for a lot more people. Now I am finding that Instagram is a powerful platform to share those empowering daily messages and reminders for people. I am also working on a podcast version of Mind the Model which is an exciting project in the works.

You focus a lot of your messaging around body celebration. What does body celebration mean to you?

Body celebration for me, is the idea that we should be celebrating our bodies for their uniqueness. I am a big believer in body neutrality. I think in this day and age, it’s unrealistic to not have an opinion of your body and how it physically looks. The celebration part for me, is finding those body parts that you really do love and celebrating what makes you unique while accepting the parts we may not be happy about.

Why do you think that we don’t celebrate our bodies?

I think it’s multi-faceted. First is the messaging we are given from a very young age about our bodies (especially for a woman). You are told not to age. Too skinny, too fat. What is expected and ideal for beauty is constantly adapting and changing. 

I also think our brains are also hard wired to look at the negatives.  We focus on the negatives. So, with all the messaging we receive it’s not necessarily easy to love yourself or love your body and celebrate it.

How important is self-care and what are some tips you have for people that may not be feeling great about their bodies?

I think self-care is really misunderstood. To me, self-care is having the ability to not fall into a negative pattern of thinking, where you hate your body and following that path. Knowing when to unfollow those accounts which make you feel bad about yourself. Knowing when to go for a walk or to eat something nourishing for your body so you feel better. Knowing when to cut out a toxic friend or relationship from your life. That’s what I actually think self-care is.

My tips:

  • Don’t compare yourself to anybody on the internet.
  • Remove anyone from your account who makes you feel bad
  • Reconnect with yourself and your body. On my site I have a really popular 7 days challenge which helps promote this.

How do you maintain a healthy diet and what does your cheat meal consist of?

This is a funny question because I don’t believe in diets or cheat meals. I’ve had a lot of difficulty with the idea of a good food and a bad food. I’ve had to learn that it’s all just food. In modelling there was so much pressure on lowering your weight that I would limit my sugar intake. Now I just eat a lot more intuitively. If I feel like something sweet, then I will eat something sweat, but just a more natural version like fruit or a smoothie. I eat quite a natural diet. Lots of fruit, veggies, and meat. I still eat dairy and all those products, but just low processed food is really important for me. I have allergies, so my diet is restricted and that rules out a lot of foods too. 

Where are you when you are at your happiest and healthiest self?

Reading makes me so happy. I love being at home, curled up on a comfortable seat with a good book and a cup of tea. It’s my escape. My happy place. Walking is also a healthy activity that makes me feel good. Can’t do it at the moment because of the masks but being able to smell fresh air and being outside combined with reading, are just simple pleasures in my life that make such a difference to my mental health and happiness.

You grew up in the Melbourne seaside town of Mt Eliza, can you tell us more about your local area? What are some of your favourite local cafes?

I love living seaside. I love the trees, I love the beach, I love fresh air. I love looking out my windows and not seeing concrete. It’s bloody cool. My favourite cafes in Mornington that I enjoy are The Winey Cow and Mercetta.

What are you currently reading, watching, listening to?

Reading: I just finished a book called the House of Blood and Earth by Sarah J. Maas. She’s amazing, a really good fantasy writer.

Watching: My partner and I are currently watching Schitt’s Creek which is hilarious!

Listening to: Loving Taylor Swift’s new album! 

Favourite cherrichella style? 

It was really hard to choose, but I have to say the Cedar Mules in cherry red. I love the colour and the thong sandal is definitely in right now.

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