Ali Tate made history last year when she became the first size 14 model to be cast in a Victoria’s Secret campaign. Today she’s making another major move in her career signing with The Lions Talent Management, who have helped make Irina Shayk and Stella Maxwell superstars. Tate tells The Daily about the unusual way she got into modeling, what the VS campaign meant to her, and the ambitious goals on her to-do list.
How did you enter the modeling world?
My modeling debut was unconventional! I played soccer for 20 years as a goalkeeper and I went to London to study abroad for a year and play for a team there, when I saw an advert in a magazine for UK’s Next Top Curvy Supermodel. The competition was looking for women over a size 12 and I decided to enter it. I never thought I would win but I thought it might be a funny story for my soccer team back in California. When I kept moving from one round to the next until I finally got to the final round and in the top 3 finalists, my parents flew out to London to watch me walk in London Fashion Week. They couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe it. I never thought anyone would consider me model material, it was all such a crazy time for me. I was signed right after the competition to an agency as a curve model and decided to take a gap year from university to give it a go!
Who have you looked up to in the fashion industry?
I have seen so many girls come and go in the modeling world, and there have been so many inspirational women for me. I always looked up to Ashley Graham’s ability to speak and her stage presence, and Tara Lynn’s angelic beauty. I love interacting with models who have a voice and are doing good things with it, like Cameron Russell and Adwoa Aboah.
We’re seeing more body positivity in the fashion world. Why do you think fashion is finally waking up?
We have seen body positivity growing each year in the fashion industry and I think the reason for that is due to consumer’s using their voices actively to ask for more relatable models. Because social media has allowed people to speak directly to brands, their commentary has helped shape brand aesthetic. The average size of a woman in the USA is a size 14, and I think many of us believe we should see that reflected in advertising. For so many years fashion has been seen as a kind of fantasy world with super skinny, mainly white women selling us clothes, and the consumers who are actually buying the clothes have said, “Enough!” We all want models that look a bit more like us. I believe that brands who won’t use models of different races, sizes and genders will fall behind and that body positivity isn’t really a trend, it’s just evolution.
What did it mean to you to be in the Victoria’s Secret campaign? What kind of feedback did you get from other women?
It was an amazing experience to be in the VS campaign. I honestly never thought in my wildest dreams that I would end up on the walls in a VS store. A girl my shape and size? No way. The attention that came with being in a VS campaign was a lot and a majority of it was positive. So many women were writing to me how my confidence with my body made them feel stronger and more beautiful in their own bodies. Honestly, all I ever wanted was to help people and make them feel loved, so to be seen on a platform that big and know that a lot of women felt that way was a really great moment for me.
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At the launch today for @victoriassecret and @bluebella at their flagship store in NYC. I believe I’m the first size 14 on @victoriassecret? Regardless I’m pretty stoked to work with a brand I idolized when I was a teen. Great step in the right direction for bodies. Available online @victoriassecret and at select stores across the country and UK.
We hear self love is an issue that’s important to you. How do you define it?
Self love is a very important issue to me because I have had such a lack of it in my early life. I always had a bigger sized body even when I was playing soccer 5 days a week, and I really disliked myself for many years. That feeling is something I want to eradicate for as many people as I possibly can, and I believe that is done through self love. To me, self love means learning to accept our inherent worthiness no matter what we do, say, or how we look. Just existing means we are enough. It doesn’t mean that we need to have a “nice” body first, or achieve all of our career goals, or have loads of friends and a huge following to be able to see ourselves worthy of love. I talk with experts in the body positive and wellness field on my podcast The Love You Give and never get tired of it.
What’s your podcast about?
It’s a feel-good podcast about self love, body positivity, and mental wellness. It is the perfect podcast for anyone curious about spirituality or people who are going through a hard time and looking for some love. I speak to top experts in the fields of self help, body positivity, meditation, spiritual belief and health about their own journeys and ways that they have made their lives more meaningful and more full of joy. I am amazed by every one of my guests and the quality of their teachings, and always come away from every conversation inspired to be my best self.
We saw you’ve been reading self help books recently. What books have you been reading and what do you recommend?
Self help books are my jam! I have read books on wellness and spirituality since I was a teen. Some of my favorites are Autobiography of a Yogi for a spiritual lens on self love and realization, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, which I find helps with anxiety, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which is an inspired work and helps remind me of what is really important when I get bogged down by life. I also love The Untethered Soul, The Universe Has Your Back, and Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer.
-What else do you have coming up career-wise?
Due to the current situation in the world, a lot of things have been put on pause for me. But I have just signed with a new modeling agency at The Lions and am excited to see what we create together! I believe I am their first size 14 model and I love that more amazing agencies are taking on models of different sizes. The Lions represent some great models with unique voices and I am optimistic about our future together. I also have an appearance in a show coming out with a great network, which was very exciting for me as I had never acted before. Making my acting debut in that show gave me the bug, and I have been taking acting classes for the last year and started to go up for more auditions. I think we need to see some more size diversity in Hollywood and I am excited to bring it to them!
What are your goals in the future?
I have so many goals and I don’t know if I can do all of them, but I am going to give it my best shot! I would love to create a vegan and sustainable shoe line that goes up to bigger sizes. I also want to book a series regular role on a network like HBO or Netflix. And I would love to see my modeling career evolve and book covers of some big magazines. After all that is done, I would love to buy a plot of land and live off the grid with my husband and family, and start a farm and animal rescue, a place where I could host retreats and have some of the amazing people I have met come to teach and hold a space of healing. I firmly believe we need to vocalize the things we want and by putting it out in the universe, we begin to attract that to ourselves. If my life looked even a little bit like the one I have envisioned, that would be a life well-lived for me!