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Old 25th May 2010   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Kelsey interview, part II

Once upon a time, there was a princess and a castle . . .

* * *

In the first part of our interview with Kelsey Olson--the most beautiful plus-size model in the industry today--we went a-progress through her modelling career and gleaned fascinating behind-the-scenes information about her celebrated shoots. We also offered tantalizing hints about Miss Olson's personality--hints that left her fans eager to know more about this dream of beauty.

Everyone wishing to discover who Kelsey really is, as a person, will be thrilled and delighted by the second part of the interview, linked below. In this section, the model opens up about her character and discloses many intimate secrets about herself. Miss Olson doesn't hold back, at times even musing aloud whether she should be revealing so many candid details. But Kelsey is at once both ideal and real, an unattainable goddess of beauty and a friendly, easygoing, forthright girl, so her candour and sincerity are a part of her nature.

Later in this section of the interview, Kelsey tackles numerous difficult and challenging "conceptual" questions about body image, art, heritage and culture. Her responses are thoughtful and significant, and at one point she expresses what may be the most profound opinion that anyone has ever offered in a Judgment of Paris interview.

This is the shortest, but meatiest portion of our profile of Miss Olson. Fans of Kelsey, and all aficionados of plus-size beauty . . . prepare to learn everything that you have ever wished to know about the fairy-tale princess of plus-size modelling.

Intimate, unguarded portrait (by Stanley Debas):

- Click here to read Kelsey interview, part 2

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Old 26th May 2010   #2
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Default Re: Kelsey interview, part II

Although part 1 told an interesting story, I love this page of the interview even more. It's much deeper and meatier. Not only does it tell us much more about Kelsey (whom I love even more after learning about her personality), but the discussion in the second section, about body image and beauty, was really thought-provoking.

The anecdote about the woman who felt better about herself after seeing Kelsey's measurements posted online was inspiring:

“His wife had the same measurements as me. She was always super self-conscious. And he wrote to me and he wanted to say ‘Thank you’ because she saw that we had the exact same measurements, and that I was being successful with my body. So he wanted to thank me for sticking true to being a plus-size woman. And that, right there, that helped me. I felt like, ‘Wow, that’s really moving.’ Things like that really make me feel better about stuff that I have issues with.”

I agree with Kelsey -- it IS a very moving story. This woman probably took her measurements, saw herself in the mirror, and felt bad about herself. But then she saw Kelsey, and saw what those measurements actually meant -- what kind of amazing beauty they could translate into -- and felt better about herself. It's a marvellous real-life example of the kind of good that true plus-size models who are gorgeous can do for women's body image.

But I immediately recognized which of Kelsey's opinions the interviewer loved most, when she said:

“Physical beauty, it’s nice to look at, but when something is truly beautiful…” she broke off, then offered an answer of the deepest significance. “I think that word should be used only when it’s necessary, because when something is beautiful, it’s almost an emotional thing. It really is. It kind of overtakes you. Beauty is something that almost can’t be described. That’s why they give it that name.”

That IS very eloquent. It reminds me of how some philosophers have asserted that music -- the music of Beethoven or Mozart or Wagner -- is the closest that human beings can ever get to expressing what pure beauty (beauty-in-itself) is, rather than merely a description of beauty, which is the best that any words can achieve.

By its very nature, Kelsey is saying, beauty is beyond human expression. That puts her right in line with Romantic philosophy.

But I would say that in the loveliest of all visual images (including Kelsey's own), beauty-in-itself, the essence of beauty, can be expressed as well.
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Old 27th May 2010   #3
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Default Re: Kelsey interview, part II

I agree that Kelsey's quotation about beauty is deeply insightful and compelling.

I was especially intrigued to discover her ethnic heritage. I had always been curious about that. With her fair features, how perfect that she be Danish-German:

“Yeah, my dad’s side is Danish.”

“Danish,” I exclaimed. So that was the secret to her Nordic look.

“And then my mother’s side is German-Russian, so Catherine the Great, you know, the movement of the Germans to Russia.”

“Yeah, that’s my family,” she informed me. “Escaped that war, and—”

“That’s so exciting.”

“Yeah, so it’s big Vikings and Germans and Russians, resulting in this big, white lady,” she said with a chuckle.

I love the fact that she actually knows about her heritage and family history. So many people today are cut off from their European roots. But Kelsey's ethnicity is obviously a part of her identity. I'd even wager that the same part of her personality that enables her to be so appreciative of the ideal of beauty, of fantasy, and fairy-tales, is also what endows her with her appreciation of culture and heritage. It's all tied together, part of the same rich, traditionalist impulse.

My own favourite quote in this part of the interview comes at the very end, when Kelsey talks specifically about the importance of one's heritage to one's identity:

“Well, you should always know where you come from. That’s you. That’s who you are, and your family, and why you were raised the way you were raised. If I look a certain way, there’s a reason for that, because that’s who I am. I think it’s important that people know about those things. Why would you want to keep yourself from that?”

She recognizes the significance of her look, and feels that it connects her to something bigger than herself. It's a very unmodern and noble way of thinking, and I admire her very much for it.

Goodness, it's amazing how perfect a setting Disneyland turned out to be, given the themes that came up in this interview.
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Old 27th May 2010   #4
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Default Kelsey on photography

Something that I've found extremely interesting in both parts of the interview have been Kelsey's comments about photography. She's obviously very interested in the craft and appreciates it from an artistic standpoint.

Much as I love painting and sculpture, I have to agree with what she said about photographs being more immediate than paintings, and therefore more important in promoting body love for today's viewers:

“When you look at a painting, many people feel, ‘Oh, it was made up,’ [...] Many people don’t really think of it like a photograph. So I think a photograph is just a modern way of showing women that, yeah, plus-size roundness to the body, it exists. And it’s not this fairy-tale thing. It’s actually there.”

That's why Rubens is no longer enough - size-celebration needs living goddesses like Kelsey as well.

Yet Miss Olson also clearly states her own love of painting and traditional art. That's really impressive, that she is able to separate her own feelings from an understanding of what will communicate best with a modern audience:

“But when I look at those paintings, I find them amazing. You just pick up any history book and you read about the Roman and the Greek women, and they were full-figured. If you were thinner, you were lower in the chain.”

Even when she praises photography, she looks upon it the way an Old Master might have thought of one of his canvasses, as something that immortalizes a moment in time and transmits it to future generations:

“A very, very beautiful photograph is something that you can look at later, and it says something about the time, or about what’s going on. Those are things that should be preserved. That’s why I like doing what I do.”
Very well put.

I admire how Kelsey can bring a timeless sensibility to a modern subject, timeless principles to a modern medium - a sense of permanence and legacy in the face of the disposable culture we live in.

I've always adored her for her beauty, but now I respect her for her amazing insights as well.
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Old 27th May 2010   #5
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Default Re: Kelsey interview, part II

I adore every word of this interview. It shows that Kelsey is not only the most beautiful plus-size model, but the most likable too. I am so grateful that she shared so much of herself with her fans. It was very generous of her to do so.

I was thrilled to read the passage in which Kelsey talked unashamedly about her love of eating:

“Are you a gourmand? What are your favourite foods or desserts?”

“Oh, my God,” she whispered, indicating that she was very much a foodie. Then she spoke the magic words: “I love eating.”

If I hadn’t realized it before, I knew it then—I was truly in paradise.

“Do you?” I asked dreamily, wanting her to say so as often as possible.

“Oh, yeah. I’m a huge diner. I love to eat and drink. I love Italian food. All of it. Anything that’s just… Well, sometimes it’s a little much. Italian food, it’s just really intense, so my girlfriend and I, we go out all the time (which I totally should not do)…”

“Of course you should,” I said quietly.

“No, we’ll just go out. Thai food, just, everything. I always try everything.”
Nothing is a greater expression of size celebration than when a gorgeous plus-size model talks openly and unabashedly about her love of food. Such statements can do so much good in helping girls overcome a society-induced stigma about having a hearty appetite, and help them develop a natural, enjoyable relationship with food.

A statement like Kelseys can help girls free themselves of media-driven guilt, free themselves of their inhibitions, and learn to actually enjoy food and enjoy life, instead of starving and depriving themselves.

I wish more full-figured models would come out with such statements, instead of practically sounding like they have to make excuses for being curvy. No mixed messages here - Kelseys comments are 100% positive.
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Old 28th May 2010   #6
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Default Re: Kelsey interview, part II

Maybe I'm just sentimental, but I really loved what Kelsey said about Christmas and how much she enjoys it. I can totally relate. It really is the most magical time of year. Even now, when we're about as far away from Christmas as it gets, I smile when I think about Christmas.

Her big, blue eyes lit up like a child’s when she started talking about the holidays. “Christmas is the best. I love it, Tomorrow, my family’s having a dinner—my immediate family [...] We’re all getting together and drinking and eating and playing games. And then, Christmas morning is so exciting. I love it. I love this time of year. And you can almost smell it in the air when it’s Christmas. You just get this feeling.”

No one, not even the saddest person in the world, could have felt anything less than boundless joy in his heart upon hearing Kelsey speak with such exuberance about Christmas, and seeing the happiness in her angelic face.

Kelsey was never happier than when she spoke about Christmas. “I totally agree,” she said. “Yeah, it’s like there’s Christmas in the air, and then the lights, and just… I don’t know, I love it. I really enjoy Christmas.”

I think the fact that the interview happened over Christmas gave it something extra, a special touch of magic, and made it even more fairy-tale like.
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Old 28th May 2010   #7
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Default Re: Kelsey interview, part II

Going back to what Emily said about how Kelsey values her roots, her heritage, I was also really struck by how close-knit she seems with her family. The example that she sets in this regard, for young girls, may be just as valuable as her influence in fostering positive body image.

She mentions it twice at least:

“I feel like I’m a good friend, and I have a very close family,” she went on. “I’m very family-oriented. My family are my best friends, and my friends are part of my family.”

[. . .]

"My friends and my sister and my brother’s friends are all incredibly, incredibly close with my family. My mom and dad, my brother and sister are the most beautiful people you’ll ever meet."

I was also very pleased to hear that her mother, whom Kelsey calls her "favourite person in the world," never ever pressured Kelsey to starve, but supported her unreservedly. (By the way, I loved the picture of Kelsey with her mom and her sister. It was adorable!)

Kelsey herself indicates why this emphasis on family, and having a nurturing family environment, is so important:

"It’s very sad, because you have these people who are idolized, like your Lindeys, and it’s, like, ‘You’re 22 years old. Where are the people who care about you?’”

How true. When you think about the Lindsey Lohans and other Hollywood celebrities, with their dysfunctional family lives, it's sad how easily they fall prey to self-destructive habits, from drugs to diet-starvation, and engage in crude, vulgar behaviour. What a terrible example that sets for young women. Kelsey's admirably traditional values provide a preferable alternative to this, as they do in so many areas.
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Old 31st May 2010   #8
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Default Re: Kelsey interview, part II

I found many of Kelsey's statements in this part of the interview to be very perceptive. They challenged a number of my most cherished beliefs.

She's the first model I've heard who, while she believes in the power of plus-size modelling to effect social change, is also realistic about its chances:

“I think it’s going to take a long time. I just think that until TV and all popular media [change], it’s not going to do anything,”

That's an admirably farsighted attitude, and sadly very true. It isn't enough to only have plus-size models. You also need plus-size ingenue actresses, plus-size pop stars, plus-size dancers, etc. Every aspect of culture needs to rediscover Classical beauty for the timeless ideal to be restored.

Also, I am very much in agreement with her stand against faux-plus models. For me, this is probably the most important issue in this section of the interview:

“I just worked with someone recently, and I’m a full 16/18, just depending. But I looked at her, and I thought, ‘Are you…?’ But I didn’t want to offend her by asking her, ‘Are you a plus-size?’ I really didn’t know if she was. And she was wearing plus-size clothing, so it was, like, ‘What is this doing? You don’t fit into that.’”

“And how tragic for the women who are seeing this and thinking, ‘That’s plus-size? What am I, if that’s plus-size?’” I observed.

“Exactly. I’m not that. I’ve never been that. And I won’t be that. That’s what you’re booking, and that’s what’s being projected out there? I’m sorry, no. That’s not what it is,” she declared, meaning plus-size.

I applaud Kelsey for recognizing how alienating it is to full-figured women to see themselves represented by size 8/10 models, who are nowhere near plus. And I am even more impressed with Kelsey for being a legitimately plus-size model herself, for sticking true to herself in an industry where the pressure to starve seems to be nearly as bad as it is in the straight-size industry (which is appalling).

I also find it incredibly altruistic and unselfish of her to defend the use of "real women" in fashion. Such a stand is not likely to benefit her personal career, since those "real women" campaigns exclude any girls who are as young and beautiful as she is. But she nevertheless stands up for the approach. That too shows how principled she is.

And incidentally, if those "real woman" campaigns stopped discriminating against beautiful models, and began using someone like Kelsey - who is no less "real" than any ordinary woman, simply more attractive - then they would make an even greater impact, and change more minds.
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Old 31st May 2010   #9
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Default Re: Kelsey interview, part II

Everyone has commented on the more serious aspects of the interview, but I have to say, something that I've really enjoyed in both parts have been the moments of humour. Kelsey sounds like she has a really sunny disposition and a great sense of humour, and because of her, this profile includes more genuinely funny moments than any past interviews on this site.

Kelsey sounds like she almost gagged when the interviewer admitted a childhood fondness for Jell-O.

“Ugh! Can’t do Jell-O!” Kelsey scoffed, evidencing obvious distaste. “Ugh! No!”

This was also a funny exchange, with Kelsey so eager not to be seen as vain (because she really isn't):

“You did put up one of your Alfred Angelo bridal pictures,” I stipulated.

“Those are… That was so beautiful. That was done in the Hamptons. I was sweating. I’m sorry, that was gross, but…”

I laughed at the unexpected comment.

“Sorry, it was so hot there. That’s funny. All these behind-the-scenes…”

I leaned toward the voice recorder and stated, with great emphasis, “Kelsey finally admitted that she’s hot.”

“No, no.”

“She just talked about how hot she is.”

Now Kelsey leaned toward the recorder. “Wrong! Absolutely wrong.”

Truly, though, Kelsey is far too modest. She should recognize her own beauty. When she was asked what she appreciates about her own look, I enjoyed her reply:

"There are things that I like. Like my eyes. They’re very expressive. And I like my mouth. It’s pretty.”
So true.

Oh, and this was a passage that I found charming. I could completely picture this moment in my mind, and I'd probably have been just as befuddled, sitting across a table from Kelsey:

“Okay, now we’re going to have five minutes where I just look at you, and—”

“Ohhhh, my God.”

“I’m kidding. I’m kidding,” I stressed—although the idea was very tempting, and if I could have gotten away with it, I would have.

It would be hard to concentrate on anything, being in Kelsey's presence, and not just spend the whole time admiring her beauty.

By the way, I love the audio excerpts. It's wonderful to hear Kelsey's voice - not to mention the ambient music! In the "My mom has gone through issues" passage, there's a distinctive Disneyland song playing in the background. I don't recognize it, but you can definitely tell where the interview was held {grin}. It's a nice touch.
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