Our 23-year-old model Hunter McGrady, a.k.a. Peanut (“My dad has called me that forever”), lights up the studio like no flashbulb could whenever she comes by Bare Necessities. Hunter moved solo to New York from nearby Malibu, California, where she learned to love surfing and “never lived a conventional life: I grew up on a mountain with no neighbors for miles. My dad is an actor and my mom was a model. I’ve always been around this business.”
In fact, Hunter started modeling to be like her mom: “I absolutely idolized her—still do. Whenever someone had a camera out, even if I didn’t know them, I would try to get in the shot!” Now, Hunter’s mother is her biggest fan. “She keeps tabs on all my work. She’ll send me things I didn’t even know came out yet,” says Hunter who, as a size 14, has modeled for Lane Bryant, Forever 21, Torrid, Nordstrom and all of Melissa McCarthy’s campaigns in addition to Bare Necessities. “I was so excited to start working for BN eight months ago, as I’ve loved the site for so long,” says Hunter. She now swears by the Wacoal Red Carpet strapless bra and Natori Plunge bras in a 38DD.
We chatted with Hunter about what she values most and what makes her who she is today.
Confession #1: I’m grateful for a strong support system.
My happy place is being in the same room as my family, my boyfriend and his daughter. They’re my best friends. I feel blessed that there’s so much love around me.
I would love to say I do all the Thanksgiving cooking but I don’t; I’m the taste-tester. I never dress up, either—I know I’ll need some elastic in the ol’ pants, so I throw on my favorite sweats or pajamas. The house always smells like heaven. My mom makes the most incredible stuffing. My dad can be found in the living room, a fire lit, playing guitar. All weekend, we watch movies and eat leftovers. It’s so cozy.
Confession #2: I’m a completely different person in front of the camera.
I’d say I am an introverted extrovert. I like to go out and have fun with my friends, but mostly you’ll find me at home in pajamas watching Sex and the City or Friends. The best part about modeling is that I’m free to be creative. It’s like acting, especially when you get to do editorials. Beyoncé has Sasha Fierce; I have…well, I’ll work on an alter ego.
Confession #3: Positive body image is everything.
I’m extremely passionate about helping young women with body image, as it was always something I struggled with. I didn’t get into modeling to be famous; my goal is to help girls realize they are beautiful in every body.
Confession #4: The plus-size industry is taking off.
I am so thrilled about the rise in the plus industry! Did you know that 67 percent of American women are above a size 14 but have only 2 percent representation in the media?! That’s about to get a lot higher. Curvy girls are starting a revolution. We will not go unnoticed.
Confession #5: Models are more than just pretty faces.
So says my 4.0 grade point average.
Confession #6: You’d better check your ego at the door.
It’s good to be humble in this business. When you’re in the limelight, it’s easy to get an attitude, but everyone deserves respect. Treat the CEO the same way you would treat the janitor. I don’t agree with having a big ego…unless you’re Beyoncé.
Confession #7: Modeling can be physically and mentally exhausting.
Sometimes you’ll have 80 or 100 pieces of clothing on a rack, and you’re changing in and out of them all day long. At the end of the shoot, my body is killing me. The hardest part to overcome is standing in front of an entire team: photographer, digital tech, hair and makeup, stylist, lighting and so on. After a while, you get over your nerves and realize that everyone is there to do a job, and it becomes a big party. Lingerie is my favorite thing to shoot because I always feel sexy.
Confession #8: You never know what the day will hold.
People think modeling is extremely glamorous, which of course it can be. I’ve had some jobs where I’ve been given a manicure and pedicure and craft services, and we only have one shot to get. But I’ve also had many more 12- or 16-hour-days where I’m about ready to cry if someone touches my hair or fixes my shirt again.
Confession #9: A great shoot takes a happy team.
It requires upbeat music and positive attitudes all around. If one person on set is in a bad mood, it gets noticed. It’s such a collaborative effort and so important to all stay on the same page. Sometimes I have to smile even when I’m not feeling it because I don’t want to bring everyone else’s day down.
Confession #10: We all need to embrace our imperfections.
Empowerment means owning every single part of your being, including things society has deemed a “flaw,” whether it be your height, your hair, your body, your stretch marks, your scars, whatever. I feel my most beautiful when I get out of the shower because that’s me stripped of any cover-up. You are you, and nobody in the world is allowed to take that away.
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