Jessica Louise Is a Model of Her Own Making
Jessica Louise, also known as SayHelloJess to her Instagram fans, or just Jess, is the badass challenging stereotypes within the modeling industry.
We talked to Jess about what drives her, and how you too can find your inner confidence for mind and body positivity.
About me: I’ve loved the camera since I was a child but I really started modeling in 2006, doing shoots with friends, coming up with concepts and just experimenting. I’m now with Bridge Models in the UK and have shot with photographers including Gilles Berquet, Julia Fullerton-Batten, James Beddoes, James Mountford and Maisie Cousins for publications like Hunger magazine, and appeared in books and exhibitions such as “La Femme Ideale” series for Gilles Berquet and “100 Naked Women” by Nadia Lee Cohen. A creative artist as well as model, my work straddles mainstream and strong edgy editorial, I like to collaborate with people who push boundaries and challenge societal norms, especially stereotypes and misconceptions about Black women and the Black female body. I once got called a sheep in wolf’s clothing and that still resonates with me. I’m a (mostly) gentle giant — who likes fetish heels.
Do you ever leave the house without makeup?
I almost always leave the house without makeup and this is mainly down to laziness — a strong desire to sleep. If I can sleep in an extra half an hour rather than do my makeup then I will, and just rush it on the train or on the bus later on.
What’s the most important quality you look for in a female friend?
Just somebody I can trust, really, I don’t ask for very much. I used to want a friend that was my height and body type/build, shoe size, so I steal her clothes all the time but I’ve kind of grown out of that now.
When you feel insecure or a little low in confidence, how do you make yourself feel better?
My family makes me feel better, just being with them; reading a book to take my mind off things, looking at the internet… but sometimes staying away from the internet is best! It really depends. Working out, going for a walk, sleeping. I guess I haven’t really found a magic wand for that yet.
Are there any celebs repping girl power and feminism whom you admire?
There are a few but the first person that comes to mind is Rihanna. I adore how unafraid she is to explore her sexuality, her music, her fashion sense. She’s unafraid to be herself and that’s a really powerful message.
Who is the sexiest woman in the world, in your opinion?
We’re all misunderstood. What’s one thing you’d never want anyone to misunderstand about you?
Perhaps that I’m super confident and happy every single day. I’m actually more reserved and introverted, and it takes a lot of effort for me to be more outgoing sometimes. I go through the same struggles is everyone else, I’m susceptible to the negative messages that society sends out with regards to how you should look, what size you should be, the color your skin should be, so I think one thing I wouldn’t want people to misunderstand is that I am super confident all the time.
What’s something you’ve struggled with in the modeling business?
It’s probably easier to list the things I haven’t struggled with in this industry. I mean I’ve been in it for about 10 years now and the things that frustrated me then and continue to frustrate me every day are the racism and ageism. There have been a lot of body positivity movements and empowerment movements in recent years but I continue to feel underrepresented in the modeling industry. There’s this obsession with youth and fair skin that I struggle to take, I don’t see enough of people who look like me in the industry and that’s one of the reasons I stick with modeling despite my occasional unhappiness with it. If I can help other girls who feel the same way by putting myself out there and being this person that’s not represented, that’s a really beautiful thing to me and motivation to keep at it.
How has modeling helped your confidence?
In a similar vein to the last question: by becoming this person that I didn’t see represented in the industry – somebody with darker skin, somebody fuller figured. By being that person rather than waiting for someone to come along, that’s helped my confidence. Modeling is also a creative outlet for me so exploring and embracing different sides of myself my personality, that’s helped my confidence a lot too.
What outfit are you wearing when you’re feeling your best?
Pajamas, did I mention I love sleeping?
Any badass brands you’re into at the moment?
Anyone that does my size really. Any brand offering a 36 inch inseam and a size UK 9/10 shoe, that’s a badass brand. Big shoes are really hard to find in the UK. Actually ASOS are great, their tall section is exceptional. There’s a lot of variety at very reasonable prices. I even went to visit their tall department at the head office in north London a little while ago, the video is on my channel.
Who are your girl power role models?
Check my following list on Instagram. Anyone I’m following is, to me, a strong representation and role model for girl power.
What’s one piece of girl power advice you would give the younger version of yourselves?
Go easy on yourself. I was always quite hard on myself, I still often am but if I could go back in time I would just say to ease off, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be this person by this date, just go with the flow. Which for sure is easier said than done but at least I would say that and hopefully I would then develop ways to follow that advice and be an even better person today. Kinda.
Interview by: Mallory Llewellyn
Photography: James Beddoes