“When I was little I wanted to be an opera singer, but it was hard to imagine a road to get there. By the time I went to college my dream changed a little, and I landed on commercial singing—jingle singing—as a career. You can make some good money with that, as long as you can sight-sing well. I was working up the courage to go do that, but I kept thinking, ‘What if I mess up so badly that I can never walk in the door again?’ I wanted to try something that I would definitely fail at, and then I would know that I could pick myself up and keep going. I decided to go to a modeling agency first, and they signed me right away.
So I started modeling instead… never did that jingle singing. It was a different world in those days. I had been into a Lane Bryant before and knew that the models kind of looked like me, but I also thought that I was different because none of the models had stretch marks or cellulite. I remember being so beside myself. I felt out of my element and experienced total impostor syndrome.
I graduated with a degree in linguistics two years after I started modeling in Seattle, and then I signed with Ford Models in New York. Before I moved to New York, but after I had gotten an agent, I found out that I got booked for V magazine a day before the shoot. There were five of us girls, and it was really amazing—that kind of catapulted the rest of my career. Italian Vogue came not too long after. It was intense! Steven [Meisel], and Pat [McGrath], and Guido [Palau]…I wish I could tattoo that into my brain. There were two days of fittings, and then two days of shooting. Edward [Enninful] styled it. I had been nude with the bits covered before, but this was everything. I was like, ‘When do I get to take my boobs out? Hello!’
There's a lot more [plus-size clothing] available online now, but in the physical world I still struggle. I end up buying so much stuff just to find it in my size. Oftentimes, you’ve got your ASOS or Forever 21. I model for 11 Honoré and they have beautiful designer pieces, but for my day-to-day life it’s outside of my price range. The other day I wandered into a Banana Republic and bought maybe six dresses—they all need to be tailored. I get things tailored on set all the time and I always think, ‘I need to hire this woman, bring her to my house, and have her redo my entire closet.’
Plus-size never used to be 'fashion,' and so it’s so exciting to get to participate in the artistic side of it now. I just want it to be simpler, and cooler. You know what brand is amazing? Cacique. They branched off from Lane Bryant, where they used to be size 14 and up, and now they’re their own brand and they’re all the way down to an A cup. They’re totally size-inclusive and I love what they’re doing.
My skincare philosophy is moisture is God. And, the sun is amazing, but you’ve got to protect yourself from it. I’m really big on SPF, and hats, and shadows. I use Josie Maran moisturizer with SPF in it, I put some It Cosmetics CC Cream over on top, and then I powder up with some Shiseido SPF. On my light days, if I’m just going for a hike or something, I’ll just do the powder Shiseido. It makes you look really vain when you’re at the top going pat, pat, pat, but whatever. It’s good for those forest selfies. [Laughs]
I wash my face at least twice a day. If there’s a workout, it’ll be like three times a day. These days I’m really loving my Kate Somerville foaming cleanser. I don’t use toner, but I do love a pre-cleanse with Dermalogica on days where I’ve worn makeup, gone out, or worked out. It’s an oil, and you put it on, lather it up, and it gets rid of so much makeup without any scrubbing. Then I just use the Kate Somerville after that.
I had been into a Lane Bryant before and knew that the models kind of looked like me, but I also thought that I was different because none of the models had stretch marks or cellulite.
I use Yes To Tomatoes as a spot treatment. I also use Mario Badescu as a spot treatment, but only if I’m going to bed. You can’t wear it out, and you can’t wear it under your makeup—if you want any action, you probably can’t wear it at night, either. [Laughs] I use La Mer eye cream. It depuffs, and I think that’s the main thing because I wake up super puffy. I have the Skinceuticals Renewal B3 Moisturizer that I really love, but then I’ll also throw on a Tromborg face oil at night—my skin eats it up. I’ve recently gotten into Estée Lauder Night Repair. It takes down inflammation, and it’s a good reset overnight under your moisturizer. And I totally use P50.
Brows are my thing. I often I dye them with Just For Men, which I do not recommend to anyone because [the box] says you can go blind if you use it there. So if you do it, you’ve got to be careful. I keep a brow pencil in every bag, every backpack. I’ve got some Anastasia, I’ve got some Clinique… I love a pencil because you can make it look like hairs, but I also sometimes like a ‘tattoo.’ Maybelline has Brow Tattoo, and it’s a 24-hour brow product. I get that one in a much lighter color, like a taupe or something, and use it in conjunction with an Anastasia gel. Every once in a while I go without, and I feel like I look a little bald. But, variety!
There are so many products by Maybelline that I have been addicted to over the years. I love the little red Baby Lips—it’s actually in my purse now. I use so many different types of mascara, but I’ll usually grab Great Lash. And I really love Fenty for lips—I’m totally crazy about their Uncensored red lip. For nails, I use a whole range of fun Essie colors and various nudes. Au Naturale is my favorite, and then I just use their Good To Go topcoat.
I still love a night out. Now that I live in the suburbs, I’ve got all the mom friends on my block. We’re all married with two kids, and we get together frequently for wine—no dads allowed. Sometimes I love to dress up my eyes with a smoky eye when we get together. I stick to cream shadows—Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, love those. You can stick them on, move them around, and they don’t transfer to the top part of your lid. This specific Tom Ford palette totally transformed my life, Cocoa Mirage. And if I want to play, Natasha Denona’s Mini Nude Palette is so fun. It’s so good for travel—it’s light.
My face is always lighter than my body, so I like to add some bronzer. My favorite is from Tromborg, the Baked Minerals Silk. Even though the packaging is gigantic, I take it around with me. I also like to use it with the Marc Jacobs cream highlighter. I’ll do it on my cheek, my cupid’s bow, and sometimes I add a little bit to my lids.
To wash and condition, I use Christophe Robin only. I started coloring my hair when I was pregnant with my first son, which you’re not supposed to do, but [the dye] did not touch my scalp. I turned my hair this crazy blonde with balayage. My natural color is mousier, and I love my natural color, but once you dye it, it takes years to grow it out. So now I’m stuck coloring my hair, which is why I love the Christophe Robin stuff because it moisturizes my hair without weighing it down. It just feels super healthy.
I love hair to look undone and messy. I’ll do an air dry while I’m doing my makeup, or a really rough dry to get some extra moisture out of it. Sometimes I wrap it around a barrel in opposite directions, and spray dry shampoo at the roots—R+Co is my favorite. After the air dry, I use a little bit of product to get the movement I’m looking for. I could do a salt spray or a little bit of cream. My favorite cream is the Shu Uemura Essence Absolue, or I use the Oribe Cote Azure Hair and Body Oil. Both of them smell really good, and they add some moisture.
I love Korean spas and I pay lovely people to scrub me. I won’t tell you exactly where I go, but I go to Olympic a lot when I’m in LA. And I’ve been to Sojo Spa in Jersey—it’s amazing. It’s like a four-story spa, it’s co-ed, there’s an infinity pool on the roof, and you get to look at the city from there. The best massage I’ve ever gotten was in Toronto, by a man named Alan. I’m still looking for that guy. Alan? Alan? I will never forget him. I had been working out too much and not stretching, so my glutes were in pain. Somebody told me I had to go to this place, and I get on the phone like, ‘Are you comfortable massaging glutes? After I got on this whole rant about massaging my butt, I get there, and I see like he’s six-foot-five. And he did massage my butt, but only with his elbows. The rest of the massage was the best I’ve ever gotten. Alan, if you’re reading this, I’m looking for you. Drop into my DMs.
Resistance training is my thing, and I do it at the gym. I think it’s nice to go work out among a bunch of scantily-clad, good looking people. I don’t think of myself as a particularly self-conscious person at the gym—I do my thing, I feel confident that I have good form and don’t assume that everybody’s staring at me. And there’s something about having somebody around you that energizes you to continue doing that, and not let your heart rate go below 95.
My favorite date night is one where there are no cell phones. It probably starts out with dinner and cocktails. One of my favorite places is Feast. They have such gorgeous food, amazing cocktails. Then I love to go to a film. I go to this one theater in Jersey that has seats that fully recline, and you get a full horrible meal and all the alcohol you want. But my favorite late night spot is my kitchen. I make avocado toast, but like with butter between the toast and the avocado. It’s good.”
—as told to ITG
Tara Lynn photographed by Tom Newton in New York on June 10, 2019.