If you take a moment to go through the photos of Yael Perez you’ll notice her evolution as a model, risk taker and as a woman. The Montreal, Quebec native began modeling as a promise to a close family member and before she knew it she was modeling for major retailers. In addition to modeling, she is the co-owner of a very successful blog and resource guide for plus size women.
It’s always a pleasure to meet women who are bold enough to create opportunities for themselves and others simultaneously. In this interview, Yael shares her childhood, how she began modeling, her multiple talents and her plans for the future.
What type of childhood did you have?
I had a very happy childhood! I have 3 sisters so I was never really lonely. I’m also a triplet! We’re not identical though so it’s a little less exciting..
As a child, and growing up, I was always larger than average but I never really saw it as something that held me back. I still pursued my interests in elementary and high school (musical theatre and art). By the time I was in my late teens I learned to truly embrace that side of me and developed the confidence that has brought me where I am today.
How has your roots in Canada, Israel and Romania affected the way you view beauty in the world?
It helps reaffirm in my mind that there is beauty in everyone and everything. Beauty isn’t defined by skin color, or race. And, as I try to convey with my modeling and career choices, it isn’t defined by size or shape either.
How did you get your start modeling?
I started modeling for fun in 2007 by getting in front of a camera for a friend’s photography class. Fast forward to the end of 2009 and I had the opportunity to shoot with an amazing local photographer (Danny Girl Photography). I showed those photos to my mom before she passed away and seeing them prompted her to ask me to make a promise – to promise that I would try to pursue modeling professionally. I said yes, of course, and proceeded to do a lot of portfolio building over the following year until I found the opportunity that sealed things for me: Addition-Elle and Penningtons were looking for models for their web catalogues! I applied and was hired and spent a very rewarding year working with them.
As a model, what has been your most daring photo shoot?
It’s very hard to choose between two photo shoot experiences so I’ll share both! One is the last shoot I did with Andrea Hausmann Photography, another local favorite here in Montreal. I posed nude for the first time to recreate some very inspiring images of famous plus size models. It was very liberating to bare all for the camera! It also helped that the images were complemented so well by the makeup and hair that the creative team did for me – thank you Crystal Makeup and Malina Hairstyling!
The second shoot was done with my other favorite pinup studio – Glamour Parties. The owner, Marisa Parisella, had created this luxurious Arabian Nights set and I decided to do something bold and pose in a body stocking. We got some incredible images out of it and I had never been so proud of my curves! The hair and makeup artist, Jacinthe Benoit, did a killer job on creating a very exotic look and it just fit so well with the vision that we were trying to create.
What modeling assignments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my time with Addition-Elle and Penningtons! That contract opened many doors for me and gave me a taste of what commercial contracts can be like. All I can say is that I want more! I still remain on good terms with the team I worked with there and my old supervisor even sends me info on potential jobs elsewhere when she comes across them. In my mind, this is just further proof that in the modeling world, like in all career paths, you have to be nice and friendly with EVERYONE and you have to carry yourself with class and remember that it’s a job – you’re hired to follow instructions, not just to look pretty! It’s the only way to seriously expand and grow in the field.
Another accomplishment that seriously had me on cloud 9 was being chosen as the cover model for a new plus size magazine in France called Ronde et Glamor this past December. The owner, Nicole, put together a great publication that included fashion tips, model-for-a-day winners from their Facebook page, and lots more. When she asked me to be on the cover for their debut issue I was blown away and so sincerely flattered. I was also very proud since I’d been following their page since the beginning and watched it grow!
With over 15000 Facebook fans, I’m sure you have plenty of admirers. Are you currently involved in a relationship? If so, are they supportive of your career?
I am married to a very incredible man! We’ve been together for 5 years, and married for last year and a half. Not only is he very supportive of what I do, he also takes part in a lot of the shoots and projects that I work on. He’s studying photography on his own and some of my favorite photos were taken with him behind the camera. I have to say, there is no way I could have accomplished even half the things I’ve done without him in my life.
Also, since you mention the amount of fans on my page, I’ll share a cute story with you.. When I first created my modeling fan page last January, as a way to encourage my work and share my excitement he promised to give me some type of reward for each milestone of fans I reached. The rewards ranged between a fancy home-cooked meal, a pretty heart shaped ring I’d been eyeing and a trip to a soft pretzel shop to satisfy a craving. How sweet is that?!
That’s adorable! I read that you love modeling for pin up and burlesque projects. What do you love about those types of projects?
While I love all things related to femininity and fashion, I find pinup photography and burlesque to be art forms that are more welcoming to a curvy body and I feel they leave more room for self expression.
Tell me about P.S. Montreal.
P.S. Montreal is the brainchild of myself and my friend Megan. We created it as a lifestyle and culture resource for the plus size women in our city. It’s still in its early stages but our website has a blog, directory of fashion/health/other resource links, event planning and more… We want to host classes, workshops, fashion events and anything else we feel may benefit our public. Right now we are working on our first large scale event – a fashion show that will take place on April 6th. It’s called “Love the Skin You’re In – A Plus Size Fashion Event”. We’ve got 8 plus size lines we’ll be showcasing and 2 accessory designers.
Sounds like a great event. With so many blogs out, how does P.S. Montreal stand out?
I think what makes us stand out is that we’re more than just a blog – we’re a real resource. We physically, mentally and emotionally interact with our audience. We ask them what they’re looking for and try to find ways to provide it. When we hear people are looking for places to shop, we research more stores to add to our directory. When we hear people talking about wanting to be healthier, we think up classes and resources to offer (Yoga for Round bodies with Tara is coming soon!). While what we do is geared towards the plus size community, we want to be advocates of positive body image, size diversity and acceptance.
You’re definitely making strides in the plus size community. What’s next for you?
At this point, the sky is the limit! I’m 25 years young and enjoying embarking on this plus size journey. Between the modeling, burlesque, and P.S. Montreal, I truly feel like I can do anything. I’d love to try my hand at designing clothing (although I have no sewing skills!) and would also like to open up my own boutique. As far as P.S. Montreal, I’d love to expand our services by offering personal shopping experiences and model coaching. My mind is full of endless ideas.
Image Credit: Photographer, Bonnie Falk; Make up Artist, Gabrielle Willis