Robyn calls ‘bullsh*t’ on modelling world

By | November 17, 2018

Robyn Lawley is attempting to get me to start a compost heap in my backyard.

The 6ft 2 (1.88m) Amazonian glamour is rattling off its benefits and ease as she steps off a train in the middle of a storm in her home base of upstate New York after shooting BW’s cover in central Manhattan.

In fact, the hugely successful Aussie modelling export wants composting and healthy living to be her legacy. And she’s not joking.

“You just need dirt and scraps — that’s all you need. Everyone I think has a really bad opinion about compost but it is like magic soil. You can do it,” she wills me on.

“Just grab your vegetable scraps together and chuck them in a pile of dirt in the backyard. It’s very easy … as lame as it is I will push compost forever.”

The 29-year-old Australian size 16 model is a champion for healthy eating and body positivity and has most recently taken on lingerie behemoth Victoria’s Secret for failing to include body-diverse models in its infamous annual fashion show. A petition she established called “We are All Angels” garnered close to 10,000 signatures in support of including “curvier” more normal women in the line up.

“I know it from the inside out and it is complete bulls***,” she says of the body image perpetuated on the VS catwalk.

“All my friends that were doing that show were starving themselves, they weren’t eating and they were exercising 4-5 hours a day and they are not usually exercise people.”

“Eighty per cent of people who watch that show are women so why wouldn’t you cater to that and show diversity? It just doesn’t make any sense to me financially from a company standpoint but also it takes a company like Victoria’s Secret to change the game.”

Lawley, who is never without a job — clients include Westfield, Bras N Things, Ralph Lauren, H&M and many others — featured on the cover of Vogue Italia in 2011. She was first included in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition in 2015 (the first full-figured model to appear in the edition ever) and has been featured every year after. She also featured in Vogue Australia in 2011 — the first plus-size model in its then 52-year history.

Lawley has appeared on The Ellen Show and is a regular on American breakfast television.

But while the girl from Girraween in Sydney’s Western Suburbs, who was first thrown into the spotlight after being encouraged at age 16 to enter a modelling competition by her mother and two sisters, is “used to all the labels” she resents the term “plus-size” and the message it is sending women.

“Obviously I am 6ft 2 and I am a size Australian 16 but there is nothing wrong with that. I see beauty in all sizes. I don’t want women to feel ostracised but I also don’t want them to be comparing. It’s just a downward spiral,” she says.

“I was technically too tall to model. People forget this. I was too tall to model and too curvy to model (Lawley admits she went on a drastic diet and was always hungry when first entering the modelling world). I was always too something … I think diversity is a really amazing goal for any fashion brand to aspire to.”

Giving birth to daughter Ripley in February 2015 was a “life-changing” moment for Lawley in more ways than one. Following Ripley’s birth Lawley was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune condition called antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) with lupus (SLE) and this year collapsed down a flight of stairs after suffering a seizure. The trauma left a major scar to her upper forehead and the model posted confronting images of the injury to her more than 195,000 Instagram followers.

She’s vowed to not get plastic surgery to remove the scar as she wants to champion a more realistic image of women.

Lawley and her partner, lawyer and former college basketball player Everest Schmidt, recently moved from Los Angeles to upstate New York and the model says remaining out of the big smoke helps keep her health in check.

“I’m on anti-seizure medication now and my health is under control,” she says.

“I love the big quiet and one of the ways I stay on top of my health is I come back home, rest up and get back in touch with nature in order to get ready for my next job.”

Returning to live in Australia one day is something the model “constantly” dreams of.

In a further blow, Lawley says giving Ripley a human sibling (she regularly refers to dog Riley as one of her daughters) is out of the question as it would be too much of a risk to her health.

“Physically I was very, very sick after having my daughter so I don’t want to risk it or push it for me health wise. We don’t plan to have any more.”

But Lawley relishes every moment she gets with three-year-old Ripley, named after Ellen Ripley, the character in Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien, played by Sigourney Weaver.

And she says when the time comes if Ripley wants to be a model, Lawley will fully support her daughter’s choice.

“I am not ashamed of my job and whatever she wants to do I will support. If modelling is what she wants to do then that is great,” Lawley said.

However the model says she is conscious of making sure Ripley isn’t negatively impacted by a linear promotion of beauty.

“I try to watch my words and I try not to have any negative talk about food and body image as much as I can. She is going to be the same size as me and I want her to stand tall and own it,” Lawley says.

“I want her to love her body and I want her to be pretty smart, pretty strong, pretty able and pretty kind.”

GREAT AUSTRALIAN EATING SURVEY

Despite her hectic schedule — Lawley was in London immediately prior to returning to New York for BW’s cover shoot — the model took the time to do the Great Aussie Eating Survey, launched recently by News Corp Australia’s Taste.com.au, and scored a 7/10.

“I thought that would be what it was going to be because as much as I like to eat well, no one can eat super healthily all the time,” she says.

“I think a lot of people however will be shocked by their results.”

Having a holistic approach to food is paramount to Lawley and she regularly plants fruit and vegetables with Ripley and uses fresh, quality ingredients when they cook together.

“I think she is going to be a natural foodie.”

Lawley says she is concerned about how many children grow up today in a world of convenience food.

“We’ve got a growing generation that is really disconnected from nature and that is of massive concern,” Lawley says with a passion.

“We are not really taught how to grow vegetables or how to garden or compost our waste. We live in this convenience era of buying everything that is available. I think if kids saw how long it takes to grow an apple — for example it can take years for the tree to grow they would think and appreciate that apple more.

“If kids are more in touch with nature they are more inclined to know how important it is to nourish the plants and to eat good food.”

Lawley has many supporters within her industry but also has sparked the ire of many designers who say it is not realistic to have “plus-size” models on their catwalk.

Ed Razek, Victoria’s Secret’s Chief Marketing Officer, said: “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes (in 2000). No one had any interest in it, still don’t.”

But Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan said it was “so important” for people like Lawley to keep fighting for inclusivity and diversity in body image.

The Butterfly Foundation is an organisation devoted to supporting people with eating disorders and negative body image.

“Industries labelling bodies in general is dangerous and as a society we should be stepping away from this approach. The point is that a body is a body and all bodies are unique and equally worthy; hence we should be seeing all bodies represented,” Ms Morgan tells BW.

“It is so important that within every industry that promotes a certain body ideal, that there are prominent voices advocating for inclusivity and diverse body shapes and sizes.”

Health and Fitness | news.com.au — Australia’s #1 news site