Chloe Hayward, Model & Filmmaker
"I got scouted when I was fifteen, when there was no social media. Everything was shot on film and you’d only see the pictures on a polaroid or in the magazine when it came out, but there are loads of pictures of me at sixteen that I wish didn’t exist. My first shoot was topless. I was fucking horrified. I can see in those pictures the tears in my eyes. People will say, ‘yeah so what you’re a model,’ but for that age... I was a virgin. I was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of my physicality. I woke up at eighteen and I had boobs and my period. After that, people didn’t really know what to do with me [as a model].
While there’s been some amazing progress in the fashion world for body diversity, in my opinion, there’s still not enough of the middle. I definitely fall into that category. Not everyone is plus sized and not everyone is skinny. 90 percent of models, including myself, have been asked to lose weight. I’ve heard models say their agent has asked them to gain weight to fit a certain category—that’s not healthy either. I don’t think it’s healthy for young girls to see one body type, one skin tone, one hair color. And no one should feel bad for what their natural anatomy is.
I had some shoots when I was younger in black eyeliner, high heels, the worst hairstyle, all this jewelry—in lingerie. Who came up with this idea? It’s awful. Most often, it’s led by an idea of how men think women want to look. Porn holds a lot of responsibility for women feeling they should be a certain way. I feel lucky that I’m not eighteen and at school with boys who are having their sex education through pornography. Because that’s not sex education — that’s bizarre. Innocence is something you often feel later you wish you had held on to. But at that age, all you want is to be the girl in the music video, the girl in the magazine. I think there’s such a responsibility for advertising and music and fashion to represent a bit of that innocence.
I think it’s really good that brands are showing women doing things and being active with their bodies, rather than just slinking around like, ‘I have a beautiful body.’ Be physical, use your body. I was quite tomboyish that way, and I also really loved school, so I never saw modeling as defining me. I think if you do then you’re in trouble, because once you’re not ‘in,’ it fucks with your head. When beauty has been your premium, you’ll think that’s what you’re best at because it’s what everyone knows you for. So I think it’s important to educate girls that beauty is not the be-all, end-all. In the everyday there is something nice about being anonymous and not drawing attention to yourself. But I’m at an age now where, when you feel attractive and people say you look lovely and beautiful, it’s nice. I’m old enough and in a relationship where I’m cool with that. Women don’t feel nice when they’re ogled. They feel nice when they’re admired.
I studied English and Drama at University in England, and then I did more acting stuff in England. Now, I perform a little bit in films I make myself, and I’m wanting to go more behind the lens. I have so much I want to do with it, to portray people in very real ways. My films are mostly about the raw, vulnerable truth of being human — that kind of close-to-the-bone truth that’s very, heart wrenchingly true. I really want to shoot something of my mum. Or my grandma, she’s 94. That’s a huge life to live. There is so much to learn from that. I think older people feel very invisible, and I always have to remind people, or remind myself — they were young once too. They knew how to go dancing and have sex, ‘cause we’re all here now. [Laughs] “You think you invented sex,” my mum always says. That’s why I want to be making film, because it preserves moments. It preserves time even when it’s imperfect.
My life, my friends, my family, my boyfriend [make me happy.] The future, the excitement of what’s out there. I think traveling and getting out of your city environment is very soothing. You can often think ‘this is it,’ because New York is such a hectic place. But it’s important to have some perspective on how lucky you are, and to count what you have rather than what you don’t have. We live in a time where we put so much pressure on ourselves to have delivered certain life goals by a certain age. I wish when I was younger I would have given fewer fucks about what people thought of me. Jane Fonda said this the other day: ‘You have to have a breakdown in order to have a breakthrough.’ That really resonates with me as I get older. The things you thought were so important and so awful, they’re really not—and they actually end up being the things you learned the most from. For so long I was frustrated that it wasn’t happening, but the cliché is true — it’s all about the journey. It’s finally starting to happen, and it’s okay not to get there at 25, because I’m not 25. Overnight success isn’t real. Social media is this perfect unreality, a gloss that’s not true. It can be easy to sort of endlessly scroll through the pretty pictures. But I try to check it only at home, so I’m not out all day not taking in life and the city and people. Because by observing people and life that way, you get inspired to do other things. If you’re [on your phone], you’re missing it."