Because This is What She is All About
“We are surrounded by marketing and advertising, by billboards and commercials and magazines, so even if you’re not trying to look [like], or you don’t even think you want to be a model, it’s still a little appealing,” says Camille Kostek, 27, of our modern society where we are constantly being bombarded by images of the stylized faces and perfectly toned bodies. However, it can be hard for young people, particularly for young girls, to grow up in a world where one’s physical attractiveness is socially and culturally prized – especially when one’s appearance does not match the dominant beauty standard. Kostek, though undeniably beautiful and graceful, is still intimately familiar with the pressure to abide by it. “Since a young age, and especially during my teenage years as I was growing into a young woman, and looking in the mirror and caring about how I looked [while] going to school, I would judge myself a lot. I would see my body changing, and when I would see these supermodels or billboards with ads, I would notice that everyone had really smoothed-out skin, and everything was just so very symmetrical. And I would be like, ‘I have hips, and I have thighs, I have curves and I have freckles.’ I wasn’t seeing myself portrayed as much as I would see a very industry-standard model,” she recalls. “I admired them, but I was also a realist. I didn’t really see girls like myself.”
Growing up, Kostek would occasionally see ad campaigns that featured women that looked more like her, but it wasn’t until she stumbled upon Sports Illustrated Swimsuit – and saw that the brand often hired models that didn’t conform to the industry standard – that her interest in modeling became an actual goal. “I was very biased towards the women and the advertisements and the brands that I could see myself in,” she says. She spent her college years sticking to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit website, checking out their casting schedule, and learning about their audition process (“I always said, ‘One day, I want to be in that casting room, doing casting videos for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. I feel like I can be who I am right now, and not have to change a thing about my body in order to be accepted by that iconic brand’”).
In 2017, she finally got her chance to audition in an open casting call for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. Although Kostek had gained on-camera experience as a model, a professional cheerleader for the New England Patriots, and a TV host, she was one of the rare models who were not represented by any agency. Because her measurements were larger than those of the industry standards, she “could not get signed to a modeling agency.” Despite this disadvantage and the pressure to change her body to fit the industry’s beauty standard, though, her passion and her hard work paid off. She ended up being scouted by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, and furthermore, she was also the Sports Illustrated Swim Search winner a year later. More recently, Kostek landed the 2019 cover alongside USWNT striker Alex Morgan and her longtime idol Tyra Banks. “Truly staying on the path and owning everything that you are [have] gotten me to everything that I have now,” she describes. “And that’s going against the stigma of my body, of my measurements, of my age. So for me, this cover meant so much more to me – being a monumental time of victory for my life.”
Besides modeling, Kostek is also experimenting with acting, and especially with public speaking as she has started a series of university lectures aimed at college-aged girls. “I want to speak with people about being self-made, about my journey to self-love, and about being an advocate for self-acceptance. There’s nothing more fulfilling in life than helping change somebody’s life for the better. That’s really what keeps me going,” she affirms.
Writer: Monica Dias
Photographer: Udo Spreitzenbarth
Photographer Assistant: Zara Kurba
Stylist: Raven Roberts
Stylist Assistant: Ana Scheidlinger
Hair: Naomi Porto
Makeup: Marc Cornwall
Videographer: Jesse Ovalles
Media Producer: John Cruz
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to Concorde Hotel New York (@concordehotelnyc - www.concordehotelnewyork.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)