Though we all love keeping up with our favorite influencers and models, it’s often easy to get caught up in the perfectly staged world of Instagram and compare ourselves to what we see. Erica Lauren is one of the most followed and sought after plus-size models these days, but she is certainly more than what meets the eye, and always keeps it real on her social media feeds.
With an incredible eye for curve-hugging style and a penchant for honesty and relatability with her followers, Erica is the best friend we all wish we could have.
We recently caught up with Erica on how she broke into the plus-size modeling industry, her quarantine routine (or lack thereof!), and what she wishes her followers really knew about her. Keep reading our Q&A below, and get to know one of our favorite curvy girls to follow!
Hi, Erica! We’re so excited to have you on the blog. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to pursue modeling?
Not until I saw more plus-size bloggers, models, and brands gaining popularity through Instagram, did modeling start to feel somewhat accessible as something to even consider. It made me curious to see what might happen if I gave myself a shot and I found my first opportunities by submitting myself to open castings I came across on Instagram. I booked the first two things I submitted for, and the advice I received from models and photographers I met was very helpful in beginning to brand myself and to navigate opportunities. I focused my social media on sharing this new aspiring model journey and my first paid client and first agencies ended up finding me through my Instagram.
That’s an amazing journey, and really speaks to the importance of plus-size visibility in the industry. What has been your proudest moment so far in your career?
The first thing I think of is booking a Lane Bryant denim campaign. Lane Bryant was one of my bucket list clients, being that I would always shop there and they had such major campaigns. My agent would tell me when she would submit me but I wasn’t sure I’d really ever book them. But then it happened and my first ever booking with them was the denim window campaign — just me! It was a very surreal experience to have family, friends, and strangers sending me pictures of myself in store windows from all over the place.
Who were some of the women you looked up to growing up?
My mom, my aunts, and my godmother, to name a few. They are beautiful women and they were also always put together and classy. I appreciate the way they take care in presenting themselves. And my aunt Scarlet in particular, she and I are both very tall and have big feet so we would connect over that and it helped me to feel seen when I often didn’t fit in.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to other women trying to break into the plus-size modeling industry?
Research! It’s so basic but also so important. Last thing you want to do is find yourself stuck in a contract because you didn’t know any better and you’re being taken advantage of or undervalued. (Specifically, make sure at least one person familiar with the industry reads that contract before you sign it!) No, you don’t need a step-by-step plan because the industry doesn’t work like that, but pay close attention to the industry and put in the research to position yourself as best you can for success.
How have you overcome your hardest or lowest moments?
Sometimes I have to remind myself of how far I've come, because when you’re having a tough moment it can be so hard to see the way out, even if it’s tried and true. My friends really are often the ones that help my energy shift back to the positive, even if it's just through distraction. And then I try to focus on my wins, no matter how small!
You’re certainly an open book on Instagram, but what’s one thing in particular you wish your followers knew about you?
That I’m shy! Here and there I will acknowledge on social media that I'm an introvert, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to being shy! But I am both — not as much as I was when I was little, but I think it’s good to know that you can have a career in entertainment and social media, even if you’re not a natural extrovert! Give yourself the chance and your growth will surprise you.
That's great advice! Speaking of advice, do you have any fashion rules you live by? Where do you get your own curvy fashion inspiration?
Well, I follow a lot of really fashionable people that inspire me daily! But I don’t consider myself that adventurous in my own style — I like trends but I tend to incorporate them in subtle ways. I love to focus mostly on what flatters my body shape, like styles that nip in at the waist or that show off my neck and shoulders. Like a good pencil skirt, a go-to wide statement belt, turtle necks or off-the shoulder sweaters, and classic oversized hoops.
It’s safe to say that life during the pandemic is a bit more stressful than normal times. How do you stay motivated to get things done on days when you’re not feeling your best?
You know, the good thing about working for yourself is that sometimes you are in control of your schedule. And if you’re having an off day, sometimes it’s because you need some slack. Our mental health is so important so if you need a break or even a day to rest and regroup, that’s okay. But if I must push through, I at least try to narrow down the to do list to a couple of absolute must-dos.
How have you been staying busy during the pandemic? Do you have a set routine?
Haha, sure I’ve had daily routines that have lasted about a week! I have started incorporating morning meditations and now also going for walks whenever I can to take a break. Even with modeling on hold for a while, I never stopped shooting content. And working for yourself, you really never clock out either. As time passes, I’ve realized just how accurate that cliché or stereotype is!
What’s your current favorite at-home workout routine?
I don’t have a set at-home workout routine but since the gyms still aren’t open in my city, I generally scour YouTube for low impact dance workout videos — African dance workouts are always great.
What’s your go-to self-care routine to destress after a long week?
A long shower, extra skin care (aka masks!) before bed, sleeping in, and not worrying about posting on social media.
Let’s finish up with a few rapidfire questions. Do you prefer loungewear or dressing up? Go!
Right now? Loungewear!
Do you prefer cooking meals at home or takeout?
I CAN cook, but I’m very much meal delivery app dependent.
Do you prefer underwire or wire-free bras?
I typically choose underwire bras for any look unless it’s loungewear or activewear. Low impact bralettes have been my go-to during quarantine.
What will be the first thing on your agenda post-COVID?
Honestly, probably to plan for an extended trip to NY for work and catching up with friends. This is the first year I haven’t gone since I started modeling.
What are the top three travel destinations on your bucket list?
I have way more than three! Bali, Turks and Caicos, Peru, Thailand, The Seychelles, Maldives, and South Korea.
What’s one piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?
Don’t be so hard on yourself.