An Interview with Chloe Hayward - filmmaker, actor, and model in the first CUUP Campaign
By Molly Virostek
Chloe Hayward is on a mission to celebrate the middle. Chloe started modelling before she had breasts, and when they sprouted up at 17, she found herself somewhere in between sample-size and plus-size in an industry that often overlooks the many shapes and sizes in between. But it is women like Chloe who are helping to change the conversation. She is confident in her own body, eloquent in her crusade for diverse representation, and hopeful about fashion’s more inclusive, empowering future.
When I met Chloe at her apartment, she was in a soft, oversized jumper (sweater!, she clarified for me, in her sweet British accent) and a fresh face without makeup. She tugged her jumper up around her neck, explaining that we need to stop trying to fit into one size. Size is always subjective. She likes the way this extra-large jumper (sweater!) fits bigger on her. How she feels in it is all that should matter.
When she was younger, Chloe explains, she tried to dress up for other people’s expectations of what a woman should be. Now, she wants simple and comfortable style. Not only because she is confident her own skin, but because she has people to see, places to go, and things to be done. When Chloe is not modelling, she is busying acting, writing, and making her own films.
Chloe, a 32E, was part of Cuup’s brand launch and is thrilled to be working with brands that are starting important conversations around identity and inclusion. Chloe discusses the modelling industry’s relationship with boobs, how she reached a place of acceptance with her own, and the need for more realistic representation of girls in the middle.
MV: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What brought you to New York?
CH: Hi! My name is Chloe. I’ve been modelling since I was a teenager, alongside other creative things: acting, writing, film. But modelling has always been a great source of creativity and income for me, because I enjoy meeting new people, travelling to new places, and all that kind of wonderful stuff. But I started modelling when I was 15, and I didn’t start developing any curviness until I was 17. I was a straight-sized, sample-size model and did some cool things. And then my body began to change. I started slotting into more of a lingerie category. But one of the main things I remember is being 18 and having my agent ask, would you get a breast reduction?
MV: Wow. That’s a big request.
CH: Right? Fitting within measurements, keeping your hips down - it’s all part of being a model. You have to be a constant in your size. But the the boob part of it for me was really tricky because they just sprouted overnight. I woke up with proper boobies.
MV: What was your reaction to your agent’s question? Were you angry? Did you consider it an option?
CH: Shocked! And a little bit upset. That’s my body and my skin. Why would someone tell me to change it? I think I googled “breast reduction,” and saw what it entails. Obviously, some women have to get breast reductions because they have problems with their back and their shoulders. Because they are carrying this weight that does not work with their proportions. So I understand that from a health standpoint, but just for aesthetic reasons? To have more of a career as a model? Then I don’t really care. I’d rather just be myself.
MV: How did you, at such a young age, find the strength to ignore that request in an industry with such a rigid definition of size?
CH: I’ve always admired strong women who are just themselves. I saw the picture of the reduction process and thought: that’s horrible, no, I won’t be doing that. It was a complicated thing for years. Hiding them under baggy t-shirts. Doing everything to be protective and secret. Having stylists squeeze you into things and being really irritable, hating you just because you turned up with these offensive boobs and you won’t fit a dress the way they want you to.
Now I’m an adult woman, I’m not a kid, so it doesn’t upset me. I love my body, I am happy. But at that age you are critical of your body, and it was always something I was hypersensitive to.
MV: Can you tell me more about the modelling industry’s relationship with boobs? Have you seen any shifts since that first conversation?
CH: I think boobs in fashion are seen as a bit low-brow, rather than high brow. Unless we look at the 80’s and early 90’s. I love those supers- Laetitia Casta, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer - who all had more curves than you see today, but it was still high brow! It all kind of changed with Kate Moss - got to love her - but modelling became about that heroin chic, flat-chested look. People decided clothes look better on skinny girls who have no shape. I think clothes look pretty amazing on every body type.
MV: How do Cuup designs appeal to boobs of all sizes in a tasteful, flattering way?
CH: I think they’ve nailed it. It’s the delicacy of how much cleavage you see, the way the bra actually holds the boob in place. It’s held without pushing. There’s no padding. It’s working with your natural shape to give you the most confident feeling. Smoothness, support. The support is incredible. I don’t want to wear anything else. It’s a clean, modern, powerful, sensual design.
MV: We’ve talked about moments over the years where you struggled with size. Is there a moment you felt true love for your boobs? How did you learn to embrace your true size?
CH: As women, our true size is subjective and changing all the time - it fluctuates depending on your age and your hormones, if you are on contraception or not, so many variables. As I’ve gotten older, I definitely feel so much better about my size. It’s not even about feeling beautiful. I just feel myself.
My relationship with my size has been quite complicated. I got a bit bigger, I got a bit smaller. As a lot of women do. We fluctuate throughout our lives. But it’s often the people closest to you that comment on it and you have to learn to not take it personally. Even when people say, you look great! I think, did I look awful before? What does that mean?
That’s something I’d like to impress upon - making comments about people’s bodies is never really your place. That’s something we we need to instill in young girls and boys. Don’t comment on other people’s bodies. Their bodies will constantly be changing throughout their lives. For example, a lot of women will lose weight after they have a baby; a lot will not.
Everyone’s body is different. And it’s part of an amazing history you have. Of your mother, and her mother, and her grandmother. It’s all part of your DNA and your history, and not so simple as: I really want this or that. Be grateful for what you have and try not to buy into stuff that makes you feel you need to be anything other than you.
MV: That’s a great way to look at it. Along those lines, what do you think are some of the most important conversations that brands should be having with their communities around fashion, identity and empowerment?
CH: I would really hope that all brands have an Inclusivity Rider. And one that is not so extreme. Cuup has done that, by celebrating a range of fuller buster girls to smaller cup girls. As a model working in New York (or even just a woman in New York!), I believe that we should not only depict the small and large ends of the spectrum. I’m in the middle.
People are demanding inclusivity, because customers are no longer relating to one vision of beauty. I think the middle really needs to be taken into account. We need to promote healthy, realistic body sizes. There are really amazing people fighting for that. We’ve seen enough damage - to models, but also to all women and girls - around body shaming and unrealistic measurements. I had a friend (and she’s tiny!) tell me that she still remembers the little boy she had a crush on in school telling her that she was fat. You don’t forget that!
I think all brands need an Inclusivity Rider - from size to race to all forms of representation- everyone needs to be seen more. Because I don’t think everyone is one size when you walk down the street. You have a whole array of different people. So I would like to see that be fought for. And it can happen. 10 years ago in the modelling industry, there wasn’t even room for me having more of a bust. I didn’t work as much as girls that were straight up and down, because the samples wouldn’t fit me.
MV: How would you describe your style outside of modelling?
As I get older, I really want simple, and to be comfy as f@$%, to be honest. Anything that allows me to be comfortable and stylish. When I was younger, I felt like I had to dress up and come across as someone else’s view of what a woman should be. But you grow past that. I hardly even wear makeup anymore. Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll be really into red lipstick and commit to that look every day. But for now, I feel very comfortable this way. Another part of growing up is getting busy with other things. I still wear makeup, hair, and a nice dress for a modelling job, and enjoy doing it. But the next day, I just want to just get on with my life. I have things to do.