Hollywood Model Melinda Mann Rivera
Name: Melinda Mann Rivera
Resides In: Venice, CA
Stats: 5″10 / Size 12-14
Online portfolio: http://www.modelmayhem.com/plusmodelmelinda
Photographer: Lady Sweetface
When did you decide you wanted to be a plus model?
When I was very young I had the typical experience of being approached in the mall by these “scouts” who were going to make you a model—rich and famous at 13. I was sold, but my parents were smart enough to know that all things aren’t what they seem—so I let go of the idea for awhile. But I was a lot taller than all of my friends and classmates, so people would often ask if I modeled or played basketball. I am a terrible athlete, but I’ve always loved taking pictures, loved fashion, makeup, and magazines. I was a very girly girl.
So as I got older and tried to make a connection between a career and things in my life that bring me joy—modeling seemed like an obvious fit. But I never desired to be a “straight” model—I’ve been voluptuous since puberty and even at my thinnest weight I am still thick. And to be honest, I feel that the “plus” part of plus modeling is what really drew me in.
As beautiful as straight models are, they do reinforce a lot of the unhealthy and limiting views of beauty to young girls and women in America trying to look like Giselle and Kate Moss when they really look more like Queen Latifah and Jennifer Lopez. With a knowledge of that disconnect and a strong desire to make change in the modeling and fashion world (as well as a true passion for “dressing up” and beauty)—I decided to try modeling. I organized a photo shoot, got a makeup artist, hair stylist, and photographer together and took my first set of photos. Then I did all the research I could about modeling sites and magazines and joined Plus Model Directory, the Venus Diva community, and Model Mayhem in January of this year. Since then I’ve done 4 photo shoots and things have really just taken off for me.
Who are your favorite curvy role models?
J-Lo. Seriously. She transformed society’s notion of what body type was desirable—with her curvy hips and ample derrière—and had women who had once hated their curves and butts strutting with confidence, not to mention thin women actually wishing they had big butts! Not only is she beautiful and confident, but she works it. In sweats and a t-shirt she works it. In Versace she works it. Pregnant with twins she works it. The fact that couture designers were willing to specially make clothes to fit her curves, speaks volumes of her impact on fashion.
In terms of other models, the very first model I noticed was Nicole Lebris. I really respect her accomplishments in her modeling career and there is just something about her—she has “it”. And Crystal Renn…umm, Jean Paul Gaultier? Wow. I’ve also really taken advantage of Model Mayhem to learn about other aspiring and veteran plus models—Shaka is awesome, as is Gavyn Girl in Atlanta—they both push the envelope between commercial and high fashion and have unique looks that set them apart. I also adore Olga Ramos and all that she has done for me and other plus models trying to find their way.
If you could pick the perfect plus modeling campaign for yourself, who would you want to work for?
I love Nordstrom. The designers they carry make such sleek and sophisticated clothing and I can see myself rocking them in those pictures on their website—SOON! And of course Lane Bryant and Torrid (I appreciate their catering to the younger curvy women—there is a real need for that in society). But my real dream campaign would be to still be modeling when the couture world wakes up to curves and how MOST WOMEN ARE TOO CURVY FOR THEIR CLOTHES. I do not believe their designs couldn’t or wouldn’t look wonderful on bigger women. These are people with such skill and knowledge of fabric, draping, contouring of the body—you can’t tell me that they can’t figure out how to make something that would look beautiful in a size 16. So when that time comes I’ll be first in line to model for Missoni, Gucci, and Roberto Cavalli.
What are your dreams, desires and goals as a plus model?
I’d like to make a difference. Our society has come a long way in terms of what they define as “beautiful”, but we still have so far to go. I would like to have been part of the movement that changed that. In all other parts of my life I work and fight for change—modeling is no different.
I would also like to be the face of a brand—like Anna Nicole was for Lane Bryant. When I am no longer in my modeling prime, I’d like to possibly do some designing and styling for plus women, and a few other ideas I’ve got up my sleeve—that you’ll just have to wait and see.
Name your favorite store to shop for curvy clothes in your hometown…
Ross. Unfortunately there aren’t many on the East Coast (I lived in NY for 2 years and felt very deprived). It’s a discount store—like Marshalls and TJ Maxx—and has a really great plus size collection of clothes—for cheap! I love steals. I also love Target—especially their brilliant idea to feature high end designers and international talent. I try to get at least one piece from each of the designers they feature. I also love vintage—and have managed to find a whole in the wall dress shop that for some reason carries mostly 14s. So I got lucky in that regard because I am very aware that it is difficult to find vintage clothing in the larger sizes.
Who were the Photographer and Makeup Artist for the images ued in the interview?
The photographer was Lady Sweetface and the makeup artist was Artemis. This was only my second shoot ever—and they were so amazing with me. They are both such sweet and hilarious women—we had a great time out there in the desert. That shoot and their hard work will always be special to me because those pictures gave me the confidence and attention I needed to believe I could really do this. Now there’s no stopping me….this is my time.