We were lucky enough to score a few minutes with #AerieREAL model and NEDA Warrior Paige Isaac (@srsly_why on Instagram). Paige has been vocal on her platforms about mental health and eating disorders – and is featured in Aerie’s REAL campaigns.
How did you get into modeling? What is your favorite thing about it?
So, the funny thing is that I never really anticipated being a model. I’m 5’2” and I’ve got curves so I never ever in a million years thought I’d be going down this path. I initially got involved through an open casting call that Aerie held through their social media. They asked people to send in video submissions explaining why they should be in the campaign. I explained that if me being a part of it could help at least one person recover, it would be worth it. I also flashed my NEDA tat (of course) and they liked what I sent in so that’s where it began.
My favorite thing is how beautiful everyone makes you feel. Not even just that—everyone makes you feel genuinely appreciated. I still hesitate to call myself a model because I’ve only modeled for Aerie and by default of the campaign. However, with the release of this spring campaign, I’m hoping other companies will show an interest in me.
“I follow a lot of activists and animal accounts. That makes me happy! I unfollowed Victoria’s Secret and other models/workout accounts that made me feel awful about myself.”
What is your least favorite thing about it?
Comparing myself. During the spring campaign there were “real models” and it was really hard at first. I’m blatantly the shortest and I’m a small human but I’ve got rolls and curves. Everyone was super down to earth though and I ended up feeling right at home after a little while.
But, comparison truly is the thief of joy. It’s hard to battle sometimes.
What is it like to work with Aerie?
The entire Aerie team is absolutely phenomenal. The amount of love, support, and enthusiasm offered on set is never ending. They’re genuinely some of the best people I’ve ever met/worked with.
What was your favorite Aerie Shoot/Campaign?
I love the original campaign for giving me an opportunity with the company, but the spring campaign I just recently shot takes the cake as my favorite. Lake Tahoe is stunning, and this is the shoot that made me finally feel completely comfortable with modeling. I feel like because of that should I could give higher quality content now.
From the perspective of an ED survivor, how is it being in the modeling industry? What’s your least favorite part about it?
It’s hard. I mean it’s really hard. And I’ve only just reached the tip of the iceberg- I haven’t actually experienced the modeling industry like most people do. Some of the pictures that have gone up on Aerie’s site weren’t necessarily my favorite (but that’s how everyone is); however, the feedback I got from people in recovery/aspiring to recover helped me see the beauty in myself. The fact that people were getting emotional over my vulnerability made me realize that there absolutely needs to be more representation. I’m still learning to love my flaws but being a part of such an amazing community makes it easier.
Is it difficult to balance being a model and a college student at the same time?
Oh absolutely. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. One of my professors told me last semester that if I missed any more class, I’d have to drop out altogether. But opportunities don’t work around your schedule. I’ve always pushed my limits, and this is no different!
What is it like to work with NEDA?
So technically I’m not an official ambassador (yet!), but I am an avid ally and supporter. I’ve met the staff and exec, I’ve been to headquarters, and I’ve met so many beautiful people through NEDA. I’m just thankful I can be a part of it all.
What was your favorite walk?
Each walk is so unique in it’s own way, but probably Chicago. I got to meet up with like ten of you guys and we all walked together. It was so cool and it made me so happy. We’re all in the same boat regardless of what walk of life we come from!!!
Any recommendations you have for books, movies, shows, or podcast that have helped you recently?
I don’t know if this counts, but I meditate (and keep a meditation journal). And I have a scripting journal and a gratitude journal. It really helps with your mentality/mood.
Any advice you would like to give to the readers?
Only follow social media accounts that make you feel good. For example, I follow a lot of activists and animal accounts. That makes me happy! I unfollowed Victoria’s Secret and other models/workout accounts that made me feel awful about myself. Social media (for the most part) is what you make it. Make it a place where you can thrive.
And remember, recovery is a journey, not a destination. Take it one day at a time. Breathe. Make mini goals. Baby steps are still steps. We’re all in this together. – PI
You can hear more from Paige Isaac on her recent Podcast Feature from Oh Hello!