MOLLY’S BIG BREAK
Molly Constable led a fairly quiet life as a small town girl from Tannersville, New York until something unimaginable happened
By Alexandria Haechler
When she was just 17 years old, a big-time modeling agent, one who had previously discovered stars including Ashton Kutcher and Karlie Kloss, reached out to her via her Instagram account. Fast-forward to today, and as one of Vogue’s “Rising Faces to Watch,” Constable has decorated the glossy pages of major titles like Harper’s Bazaar and Playboy, and walked the runway for fellow headline-making, plus size model, Ashley Graham’s Addition Elle label. Working as a plus size model herself, Constable is often credited with pushing fashion’s body positivity needle forward, but for her, modeling is modeling, and she’d rather not be put into any one box.
Alexandria Haechler: You’re a model who has worked with celebrated creative forces like Tom Ford and Rihanna. You’ve graced the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and LOVE Magazine, and Interview has deemed you, “the perfect woman to make the fashion industry rethink its dated standards.” But, what the world doesn’t know is that you’re a small town girl from Tannersville. Both of your parents are upstate New York natives, and your childhood was spent mostly on mountains, not in magazines. Tell me what it was like to be a kid in a small town upstate.
Molly Constable: Well, Tannersville is tiny. I graduated with 30 kids in my class so I knew everyone. I knew their parents, and usually, I knew their grandparents too. My elementary school was located at the bottom of a ski resort so I spent a lot of time snowboarding. I also played softball, soccer and basketball. My upbringing was very sports driven, but I was also really close to my art teacher because I loved to draw. I loved art and I knew I wanted to work in the creative realm in some way — I just didn’t have any money to go to college. As I got older, I wanted to get involved in fashion… I had no idea that I would become a model.
AH: You started modeling when you were 17. What was that like as such a young girl?
MC: I didn’t know anything — I didn’t know who anyone was; I didn’t know any fashion designers; I didn’t know what was good and what was bad. I had a little bit of an idea because my mother agent had given me some tips, but really for years, I felt like I was wearing blinders walking into a job or casting. It was exciting though because I like to do new things and I love meeting new people so it was thrilling while being daunting too. The unknown is really fun to me. Looking back, I think it was a gift that I didn’t know much. I see the way that I am versus the way that some other people are and I think when you know what you want, you study it and you’re never surprised whereas I was constantly surprised with everything. I still am all the time and that is a nice feeling.
AH: Your first agent actually discovered you through Instagram. What did your parents think when you first told them about the prospective gig?
MC: They were like, “Oh, that’s funny, but that’s not going to happen. It’s probably just another guy telling you that you’re pretty.” But, then I told my mom to look [the agency] up and she saw that Mother Models had discovered Karlie Kloss, Ashton Kutcher and Grace Hartzel. So she let me go to St. Louis to meet Jeff Clark, who is still my mother agent. He set up a shoot with a magazine in St. Louis called Alive and that was my first job. Soon after, he sent me to New York where I signed with Ford Models.
AH: And, what was that experience like for you? What was your first impression of working in Manhattan?
MC: Well, just in general, coming from such a small town to New York City was terrifying to me. I didn’t know a thing, but I am really good at faking it so I just told myself to pretend that I belonged there even though I really didn’t at the time. I remember telling myself, “Okay, don’t let anyone think that you’re new here. You need to blend. Don’t look like a ‘newb.’”
AH: What was your first pinch-me moment in your career? Was there one moment where it sunk in that you were really modeling professionally?
MC: One of my first jobs ever was with Tom Ford for CR Fashion Book. My agent, Gary, told me that I was going to fly to London to shoot with Tom Ford, and I remember saying, “Wow, that’s cool. He’s the owner of Ford Models, right?” I didn’t learn who he actually was until after the shoot. But, the job was me and two other models wearing lingerie and standing inside a box with all of these random candies. Tom was suspended over the top of us shooting while Carine was walking around the set speaking French and wearing her sunglasses. I remember thinking, “Wow, if this is what modeling is then I’m here for it.”
AH: Now seven years into your modeling career, have you seen the industry change at all?
MC: I mean it’s always growing and there will always be room to grow in fashion, but I think as of today, the possibilities seem endless. When I started, “plus size” was on the industry’s radar, but I think that now there is diversity across all spectrums of communities including the LGBTQ community and all different races. I don’t yet trust it completely, but I think that the dialogue is growing stronger and that is great.
AH: Is there still a blind spot to the modeling industry that you wish would change?
MC: I would like to have designers realize that not everyone is a size zero and that they would have a much bigger market if they would use some of the bigger girls. It’s frustrating because we all wear designer clothes, but none of us ever see ourselves represented in these ads.
AH: Of course, when Playboy ran a feature on you, you were written up about as a symbol of body positivity. Do you see yourself this way?
MC: I find it a little bit frustrating that the only thing people want to write about is that if you have hips and a bust, you’re automatically body positive. I think that that is a lie. Of course, I’m always going to stand for individual body positivity, but I think that there are more important things in the world to focus on than our bodies.
AH: You’ve worked with Rihanna. What was that like for you?
MC: So unexpected, but so cool. It was a slight dream come true. I don’t know if it was the idea of working for Rihanna or being immersed in this extreme creativity that never ended, but it was incredible. Our first shoot was a 14 hour day with all of these different, intricate sets, and video people running around everywhere. We were just immersed in art. It was a beautiful moment in time for me.
AH: What has been the most surprising thing to you about modeling?
MC: The lifestyle and the fact that I’m able to buy groceries and live in New York City. I never thought I’d meet as many new people as I do in a day. I never thought I’d have the opportunities to travel outside of the US. I just never had any dreams like that because it never seemed like anything I was going to be able to do. It’s the little things like looking in my passport and seeing that it’s filled, and that I’ve seen things and that I’ve lived in cities by myself. I’ve found a whole new sense of freedom through modeling and I think that is what’s so great about it: you learn how to be an adult; you learn how to live a life that pushes you outside of your comfort zones; and, you learn how to make that work.