yley Gordan (@RyleyGordon) was a former model who currently disrupts beauty standards with her authentic self on social media.
Despite criticism from professionals and insecurities stemmed from them, she came to a realization that her worth was more than her appearance. Now she focuses on what’s best for her well-being rather than being obsessed with the number on the scale or any “flaws” reflected in the mirror. She reminds us that our bodies and appearance goes through changes and that it’s okay, “Don't be so hard on yourself, you are doing great”.
- Please share a brief background about yourself.
I grew up in Southern California and fell in love with surfing, plant based living, and art. I am a huge animal lover and feel the most empowered when I am out in nature. I have been painting my whole life and feel that my love for the human body stemmed from my artistry
- What led you to modeling and what pain points do you see in the modeling industry? Please feel free to share any thoughts and experiences.
When I was a little girl I always dreamed of becoming a model. I looked up to some of the top Victoria Secret models, envied their lives, and thought they were a symbol of health and success. As I grew older, I soon learned that the industry was actually filled with eating disorders, competitiveness and unrealistic beauty standards that can be detrimental to younger girls. What "hustle" culture promotes has actually hurt a lot of women mentally and physically.
- What do you think of while you’re modeling in front of the camera? What do you feel when you’re modeling?
When I am modeling in front of the camera, I feel connected with my mind and my body. It is a side of myself I get to share that I don't normally in my day to day life. It's a tool to bring out my fierce goddess energy and express myself as a work of art.
- What kind of comments do you hear or what kind of interactions do you see while on set/modeling that may affect women positively or negatively?
When I am on set I have been criticized by how short I am and that I needed to lose some weight, or I was told I looked too "commercial" which normally means I don't fit the "model standards". I really never thought of these as issues before I started working in front of a camera. To me, this messed with my identity a lot and made me self-conscious that people were judging me when I showed up to castings or photoshoots.
- Why do you think women struggle with self love, self acceptance, and accepting how they look?
I believe the way the media portrays women has affected women in a negative way and has conditioned us to feel like we are not good enough. We are constantly told to buy diet programs, shaving equipment, anti-aging formulas, belly fat hacks, plastic surgery, and the list goes on. We aren't really told that it's ok to change, it's ok to age, it's ok to gain and lose weight, it's ok to be different. Now we live in a world with social media editing tools and influencers who create a false reality of what beauty looks like. Little girls look up to that and think "why don't I look like that?" or "why don't I have that perfect of a life?"
- Have you struggled with your appearance in the past or present? If so, how did you overcome that struggle?
Before I overcame my insecurities about my appearance, I would spend so much time planning my whole week around working out and eating extremely clean. I felt like I was always too fat and that I would be happy once I looked a certain way. I would even skip out on going out with friends because I felt like everyone was going to notice my body. As I got older and I stepped away from the modeling industry, I grew to accept my body by practicing intuitive eating and ditched checking weight scales. I listened to my body's signals and stopped working out as much. Health is still a huge part of my life now, but instead I eat well and workout to FEEL good, not to look good.
- What do you love the most about yourself and/or your body? How did you gain that confidence?
These days I try to focus more on what amazing things my body does for me everyday rather than spend too much time in the mirror. I am grateful I am able to surf, run, hike, yoga, travel, dance, walk my dog, etc. I practice daily affirmations whenever I feel low about myself such as
"I am beautiful" "my body is meant to change" "my confidence shines through stronger than my dress size".
- What message do you have for other women who struggle to appreciate and love their bodies?
I would tell them that no matter what you look like, or what insecurities you are facing, you are enough. There are a million other reasons to appreciate your body that don't have to do with your looks. Be proud of the little things that make you unique and who you are today.
- How can women uplift each other?
Vulnerability and honesty have been such a powerful tool in uplifting women. It is a way for us to feel safe and authentic. The more we learn to accept ourselves, we give other women around us the encouragement to do the same, which then leads to a happier and healthier community.
- Anything else you'd like to add/have readers know?
Keep in mind that most of what you see online is fake or only capturing the "best" moments. Even fitness and health influencers only capture the best angles of their bodies. At the end of the day, we are all human, we all change, and we all go through the same cycles of the good and bad times. Don't be so hard on yourself, you are doing great.