Lovisa Lager is 19 year old a model, who is determined to reshape the way society promotes body positivity and self-confidence.
Article written for 1st print issue of The WOW Magazine. (The WOW is the first women’s magazine profiling accomplished, powerful and glamorous Asian women. It aims to reach all women of an East and Southeast Asian background worldwide and anyone else interested in their stories. It is biannually printed in London).
It is a rainy, chilly Thursday, the usual London weather (you would think), and Lovisa has just arrived for her shoot. She has just come back from Tokyo where she did a campaign for Nike. We sit in the make-up room, where lights, brushes and people surround us, preparing her for the photos. In this hustle, Lovisa seems comfortable, and she talks with me like there is no one applying a dollop of liquid, creamy foundation on her face.
Lager’s career as a curvy model begun with Instagram. She started posting photos of herself as a way of improving her self-confidence, then one day the IMM models agency messaged her about working with them. “At that time I was not sure if I was going to accept it because I was young, I was 17, and I had just finished school,” she told me. But in the end, she did accept and she is happy with her decision.
Lovisa is half Swedish, half Thai, her mum being from Thailand. She was raised in Stockholm, but has always tried to maintain her relationship with Thai culture. She was just three last time she went to Thailand.
Being curvy, from Sweden and having Asian features, Lovisa is not your standard model. Curvy Asian models aren’t that common in the media. “There is no lack of curvy Asians, but they choose not to represent them. When I look at other agencies, besides mine, like bigger agencies around the world, there is maybe one curvy Asian girl,” says Lovisa.
Lovisa thinks that the term ‘plus-size’ is problematic and that all models should be simply ‘models’, but for her, this term does not matter. “It has a stigma to it, but I don’t really think about that. I am a model and that is what I am doing. And at the same time, I am curvy, I am plus-size.”
She has struggled with her self-confidence, but now Lovisa is confident in her body and knows that no matter what size you are, anyone can lack confidence. Even so, from her perspective, it is common for “bigger people to have negative thoughts about themselves”, simply because of the stereotypes that society promotes. In Lovisa’s view, the ‘body-positivity’ concept is often linked to curvy people, when in fact, we should all be body positive. She wants to represent ‘every body’ trough her work. “I have friends who are really skinny, and they have been going through so much self-hate. They told me that I had helped them so much with what I am doing,” she adds. Lovisa’s first step for achieving confidence is “fake it ‘til you make it”, which for her means that “you have to brainwash yourself into thinking that you are beautiful. Of course, everyone is beautiful, but if the society brainwashed you to think that you are not beautiful enough, then you can brainwash yourself to think that you are.”
Just because you are curvy does not mean you can be a curvy model. Model agencies tend to prefer a certain type of body, and that is the hourglass- body. Lovisa feels that “there is a privilege being curvy and having that hourglass structure because you are curvy, but still considered attractive.” She explains that curvy models are usually expected to be between 12 and 18. She is size 20 and doing really well.
Lovisa tries to connect with her followers on Instagram and talk with them about different issues. Recently she wanted to make them think and talk about sex because many people use sex in a self-destructive way. “I can’t talk for everybody, but the majority I’ve been talking to, they go through major self-hate and as a bigger girl, you definitely feel like you are not sexy enough or you are not good enough for any guy (talking from the straight perspective). And it’s not just bigger girls. When we went to school no one taught us that it is ok to feel pleasure and that it is ok to have good sex,” Lovisa explains. She ‘had the privilege that’ her parents talked about sex with her, but she knows that among her followers there are young people who do not speak about this at home. Therefore, she has created a safe space for them where they can talk to her like they would to a friend .
In her leisure time, Lovisa needs to relax because she travels a lot and works very hard. She often hangs out with friends who work in the music industry. She enjoys cooking. When I asked her about her favourite food, she laughed and said that that is the hardest question because she is not picky at all. She eats anything, but her mum’s Thai food is the best.
Being a model means that your skin always has to look good. Lovisa, says it’s essential to clean and moisturise her face. “I use a deep cleansing milk and then micellar water. I also use light acids on my face and I moisturise a lot, especially because I live in Sweden and during winter it is really cold, -10 to -20 degrees, so I use a fat cream as a night mask.” Her favourite makeup brands are FÄRG (Swedish brand) for contouring, Glossier balm for lips and Anastasia Beverly Hills for eyebrows.
Lovisa’s style is casual, she likes to make different combinations and to dress as she feels: “If I want to wear something classy I am going to do office pants and a blazer. I like to mix different styles, both having a really girly top and a pair of baggy jeans or track pants.”
At the moment, Lovisa is also creating her own merchandise and wants to start her own business. She’s focusing on streetwear, especially T-shirts with different designs available in all sizes, not just L or XL. “I want to make street wear for girls in my size,” Lovisa says.
She ends in a positive note: “Whatever the future it is going to bring me I am going to take it and make the best out of the situation.”