I always love to discover new models, and I was immediately taken by the beautiful Osha Waiters, who is currently making waves in the curve industry. The native New Yorker began working as a plus size model just under a year ago, and is a total pro in front of the camera. Osha made her first visit to London last month, and somehow managed to carve out a bit of time in-between photo shoots and castings to speak to Coco’s Tea Party about her 9 to 5. So if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work as a curve model read on for Osha’s story…
How did you get into plus size modelling?
I was born and raised in New York City, and I’ve always loved the arts and being creative. I started experimenting with photography when I was really young – probably around the age of seven – after my mom bought me a polaroid camera. This was long before selfies were a thing, but I’d take lots of self portraits and I really enjoyed watching the photos develop right in front of me.
Then, in my teens, I started taking self portraits again. I’m really shy, and I always found it hard to express myself in front of other people. So I’d set up a tripod at home and experiment with hair and makeup looks I didn’t feel confident enough to wear outside. I liked the results, so I began sharing the photos on Myspace. People from school would say, “Oh my gosh! This doesn’t even look like you.” Or, “I had no idea you were like this.” Everybody saw me as this shy, quiet girl.
The positive feedback gave me the confidence to keep sharing photos on social media. And when I joined Instagram things really started to take off. I saw that plus modelling was becoming a big deal, and I decided to apply to a couple of agencies, just to see what would happen. I knew a couple of curve models, so I asked them how they got started and they gave me a list of agencies to approach. I applied to every single one of them, and signed with Bridge Models almost a year ago.
You have a really engaged following on Instagram and share pictures daily. And, as a model, would you say this is an essential part of the job?
It’s funny, because when I first got an iPhone I wasn’t sure I whether or not I should download Instagram. But I decided to give it a go, and once I started posting pictures my following grew really quickly.
I was actually a little thinner about two years ago, but I recently gained quite a bit of weight, and lots of girls my size saw that and began reaching out to me. They’d leave comments saying, “I’m so happy to see a girl who is my size embracing her body.” Hearing that – especially from girls who are 14 or 15 – makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Because I wasn’t very confident growing up, and if I can help to make other girls feel happier about themselves that’s such a positive thing. So I really enjoy using Instagram.
What does a typical workday look like? If such a thing even exists…
Photo shoots usually have very early call times. So I’ll start the day by getting up extra-early to prepare. And once I arrive on set I’ll go straight into hair and makeup. That will usually take an hour, minimum. On a recent shoot it took 45 minutes just to do my hair – and if it’s being straightened it will take even longer. But I actually find the hair and makeup process really therapeutic. It feels like you’re getting a massage for your face. I just close my eyes and zone out.
And shooting can take a really long time. It’s actually hard being a model, sometimes, because the hours are so intense. You arrive on set early, and could go on well into the evening. But I enjoy every moment of it, so can’t complain.
How do you unwind after a long day on set?
I like to just go straight home, listen to music and decompress. My favourite genre right now is electronic and chill music. I listen to a few different channels on YouTube, and my favourites are Majestic Casual and MrSuicideSheep. I also use pandora.com to discover new music and make sure my playlists are up-to-date. But, if I’m honest, most of the time I end up on my laptop as soon as I get home, and start working again. I like to be productive, so I’m always thinking about the next thing I’m going to do.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your 9 to 5?
Everyday I’m learning to embrace myself. And I’m really shy, so sometimes it takes me a while to warm up. I can be a little tense when I first step in front of the camera, and it takes me a couple of minutes to loosen up. There’s usually a lot of people on set watching, so it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you. I just have to pretend they’re not there and do my thing. So that’s the biggest challenge I face day-to-day.
And, on the flip side, what are the biggest perks of your job?
Getting to meet so many other creative people is definitely the biggest perk. I’ve met so many cool makeup artists, hair stylists and photographers, and it’s so much fun to work with likeminded people and create something beautiful. And I also get to travel a lot more often, which is great too. This is my first time visiting the UK, and I was actually kind of nervous because I hadn’t been oversees before. I expected everything to be so different, but luckily I adjusted really quickly. And London reminds me of home in some ways – there are certain parts of the city that look similar to New York. I’m hoping to come back early next year and explore more of Europe. I’d love to visit Greece in for my birthday in April.
Which other women working in the industry inspire you?
As far as the curve industry goes, I’d definitely say Ashley Graham is one of my inspirations. I really look up to her and hope to be on that level one day. It’s so great to see her working on projects outside of curve modelling, as well. She’s been going in other directions recently, and people outside of the plus world know her name now, which is great. And, for style inspiration, I really love the bloggers Luanna Perez-Garreaud and Soraya de Carvalho. They have very different styles. One is chic and sophisticated, while the other has more of a grunge-y look. It’s hard to describe my personal style, but it’s probably a mix of the two.
And, last but not least, what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I’ve ever been given is to just keep doing you and not worry about other people. My mom told me that when I was younger, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised it’s true. It’s easy to get caught up thinking about what other people are doing, but you’ll spend so much time worrying about them that you stop thinking about yourself. So it’s just a waste of time. And if you keep working hard enough eventually the results will show.