Kathy Ireland says that she was told to ‘shut up and pose’ during her modeling days: ‘It was frustrating’

Kerry Justich
·2 min read

Kathy Ireland might have retired from her work on the runway, but the longtime supermodel isn’t done advocating for those within the industry — especially after years of working for people and brands who encouraged her to “shut up and pose.”

The 57-year-old tells Yahoo Life about her experience working within the industry when it was extremely limited, and how that helped to shape the way she would go on to use her voice and her brand in the future. “It was frustrating to me, and my girlfriends used to give me a hard time and they’d say, ‘We’re not gonna spend our money on a magazine to look at pictures of skinny, retouched women wearing clothes we can’t afford. But when you have your own business, your own brand, keep it real,’” she recalls. “And I always remembered that.”

Kathy Ireland reflects on the strict industry standards she faced as a model. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kathy Ireland reflects on the strict industry standards she faced as a model. (Photo: Getty Images)

After launching her namesake brand, Ireland says that the first model she used was her mother. “I love representing every shape, size, color and age,” she says. And although “undue pressure” within the modeling industry remains, Ireland feels hopeful about the changes that she’s already seen.

“One of the positives that I’ve experienced in the fashion industry is more inclusion, and I love that,” she says. “To see that reflected physically in the modeling industry, I think it’s beautiful and it’s encouraging and it’s needed.”

Ireland expresses that she’s also an advocate for models feeling comfortable to use their voices when it comes to sticking up for themselves and their values. “Know what you stand firm on and what you’re willing to walk away from,” she says. “Figure out your values. For me, it’s my faith, it’s my family and then being of service through the work.”

With her platform, Ireland has not only started a brand that is now all encompassing of clothing, real estate, diamonds and swimwear, but she’s also dedicated her time to causes that she is most passionate about, including the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Serving as the foundation’s International Youth Chair, Ireland participates in a number of fundraising events, such as the upcoming Halloween Funds the Cure campaign, encouraging people to help children in their fight against cancer.

“I don't think any of us have not been touched by cancer, and childhood cancer. It’s devastating,” she says, noting that although Halloween has certainly been impacted by the pandemic this year, the event is “empowering kids to scare cancer away.”

As for the work that she continues to do on her own brand, Ireland says that it’s all about encouraging people to “really embrace your own beauty.”

Video produced by Gisselle Bances

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