In honor of the new Beyond Yoga x All Woman Project collab, we chatted with one of the incredible women behind All Woman Project, co-founder Clémentine Desseaux, to learn more about her firsthand experience in the modeling industry, the importance of promoting self-esteem in young girls, and the inspiration behind the new BY x AWP collection.
YOU AND AWP CO-FOUNDER CHARLI HOWARD WERE BOTH MODELS BEFORE STARTING ALL WOMAN PROJECT. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE MODELING INDUSTRY?
CLEM: I first started modeling as a hobby back in France when I was about 19 years old. I had my first break at 22 on a TV commercial where I was the first plus size model to appear on TV in France. It was quite an experience, and because of the overwhelming response I got from women back in France, I knew this job was more then just being pretty! It was the start of my engagement for women.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU AND CHARLI TO START ALL WOMAN PROJECT? WAS THERE AN “A HA!” MOMENT?
CLEM: The first time Charli and I met, we had a conversation over breakfast and were imagining an industry where models of all types, genders, colors, ages and sizes could model together. We wanted to show the world – and young girls – that diversity is beautiful and push them to embrace themselves as they are.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE BEHIND THE NAME ALL WOMAN PROJECT?
CLEM: Our quirks, imperfections, differences and flaws make us all woman.
WE LOVE YOUR MESSAGE OF “FLAWS ARE BEAUTIFUL.” WE COMPLETELY AGREE. CAN YOU SHARE A FEW OF YOURS THAT YOU’VE LEARNED TO EMBRACE AS BEAUTIFUL?
CLEM: I used to hate my freckles and my curves growing up – they were the main reasons why I was getting bullied at school. Now, they make me the successful model and confident woman I am today. I couldn’t be happier and I embrace both, even though society still thinks those are flaws.
IN YOUR EXPERIENCE SPEAKING WITH YOUNG GIRLS ABOUT BODY IMAGE, WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF UNREALISTIC REPRESENTATIONS OF WOMEN IN THE MEDIA?
CLEM: We just had a schools meeting this week in Florida, where we were able to listen to and interact with many young girls that shared their stories. A lot of them have grown insecurities listening to what society and the media say. Lots of them spent their young life trying to fit in by being thinner, whiter, more polished or just by fitting in a box to please others.
WHY IS IT PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT TO SHARE YOUR MESSAGE WITH YOUNG GIRLS?
CLEM: It’s key for AWP to be spreading our message to younger girls because, after speaking with girls, mums, aunties, sisters and teachers, we realize that the pressures that girls put on themselves start as early as 6 years old. Most of them do not really understand what it means to want to be thin, to want to be popular, or whiter, they just listen to society and often take on the insecurities of their mum or women role models in their close surroundings.
IS THERE SOMETHING PARENTS OR TEACHERS CAN BE DOING TO SUPPORT YOUR MESSAGE?
CLEM: Parents and teachers have a key responsibility in being examples and role models to girls. By working on themselves, working on the vocabulary they use around girls, and most of all, paying attention to the girls; many girls with whom we speak feel uncared for when it comes to their mental health and their feelings. They often feel marginalized and judged by their own close family, and other women. This is something we can all work on and change.
A LARGE PART OF THE AWP MISSION IS TO PROMOTE DIVERSITY BY INCLUDING ALL ETHNICITIES, AS WELL AS BODY TYPES. CAN YOU SPEAK TO THE UNDERREPRESENTATION OF MINORITIES IN THE MODELING INDUSTRY?
CLEM: We started as a representation campaign, showing that all models could all be beautifully pictured in the same state. We believed in it really strongly and we can see the results in the industry today. In the past 3 years, diversity is pretty much a trend, and brands are going above and beyond to cast diverse, different models. Even though there is still lots of room for improvement, we’re moving in the right direction.
WE ARE SO EXCITED ABOUT THE BEYOND YOGA x ALL WOMAN PROJECT COLLECTION! IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DOES FASHION PLAY A ROLE IN A WOMAN’S ACCEPTANCE OF HER OWN BODY?
CLEM: I think fashion and the media are the most important players in a woman’s acceptance of her body, for the simple reason that this what she looks at everyday – magazines, ads, social media, TV…etc. It’s important that brands recognize that and start dressing a woman for who she is and not for what fashion expect her to be. This is a hard transition for fashion, but we’re getting there. I do think that athleisure was born from this need of just being, in clothes.
WHAT MADE FRENCH ARTIST VANESSA VANNIER THE RIGHT CHOICE TO DESIGN THE COLLECTION PRINT?
CLEM: She’s so sweet and so talented, and she works a lot for younger brands that cater to young people and kids. I thought that her style had just the right amount of quirk to be the right style for our new custom prints. We love her work and love what she came up with for BY x AWP!
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRINT?
CLEM: To us, it was very important that in one simple design, we could comprehend the message of inclusivity behind AWP. Our heads custom print is doing just that. Showing how beautiful diversity really is.
Shop the BY x AWP collection here.