Written By: Jill Hopkins
Photography By: @KarloGomez
Growing up, Lacey didn’t always love her body. “Like any other young girl, I was constantly wondering, ‘Why can’t I get a boyfriend like everyone else? Am I not pretty enough? Skinny enough?’”
After losing thirty pounds, Lacey’s confidence was stronger than ever, and an old friend contacted her to take professional photos. “We became a team,” she said. As she put her herself out there and began to make a name for herself, her popularity in the modeling industry grew and more opportunities presented themselves. “I believe doors open doors. And they did.”
Despite critical friends and family in her small conservative town, Lacey was determined to continue doing what she loved: making art, taking photos, and being true to herself. “[My dad] didn’t understand why I loved doing this, and I don’t think most people will ever get it. [Modeling] isn’t a way of living from where I am from, it is just a dream.”
An incredible validation of her hard work and determination, Lacey was the youngest model chosen for cycle 22 of America’s Next Top Model. She placed as their runner up, moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career, and never looked back.
“Living out here by myself, I have discovered what I actually love to do, and who I really am. I don’t have to worry about people looking at me funny for what I wear, or what I do, or who I hang out with. I feel free to be me.”
Today, people back home love to tell Lacey she has “changed” as if it were an insult, but Lacey knows that change signifies self-growth and increased knowledge. Just as a seed produces a plant, our actions produce results. Lacey is learning and growing from every single thing she does.
Lacey says, “I have learned that loving yourself is a step that many people forget to do, but you have to in order to live a completely happy life.” She says physical body appearance should not be someone’s main goal. “I want women, especially young girls to fall in love with WHO THEY ARE first.” Lacey says loving herself first was the best thing she has ever done.
Battling bullies, a conservative family and the naysayers, Lacey was forced to pick herself up and transform into a secure, confident, independent young woman. Unsure of what her future holds, Lacey wants life to write itself.
“Never settle for less than you deserve” she says. “And at the end of the day, who is going to love you if you don’t love yourself?”
To see more of Lacey and her journey please follow her @thelaceyclaire