Updated: Apr 1
Each month, we choose one of our past speakers and take a look into their journey and the small steps they took in their life which led to their big goals. This month, we are talking to Cindy Gradilla, International Model and Lawyer about self love, body positivity and radical acceptance.
1. How did you prepare yourself for Mexico's Next Top Model reality show?
I think my preparation for the reality show was more mental work than anything else at the time. I knew that I would not be surrounded by my family or friends and that I would be in a new place. Since I had not yet travelled outside my hometown, much less alone to another city, this was new for me. I went with the mentality that self-confidence would be the most important fact in the competition as well as patience and perseverance in each challenge that I had to carry out.
2. What were the main challenges you faced during your journey in the model industry?
At first, it was being away from my family, starting to take care of doing my own groceries and cooking for myself because I did not know how to cook, having very good management of my finances among other things since I started living alone in another city when I was 18 years old.
The second was the language when I started to travel since I only spoke Spanish and had very little notion of how to speak English. I remember that at the beginning everything was sent to me by email, so I could use the translator, and within the works, they supported me with signs or images when I did not understand something.
But I think the main challenge was not to take things personally, as well as to be able to maintain myself in the measures that I had to have, also the fact of trying not to compare myself with the other models within the works or castings.
Sometimes I demanded too much of myself, looking for that "perfection" of an image to be able to stay with certain jobs causing me to doubt myself a lot, how I looked physically, or whether or not I had the ability to do things.
3. What is one piece of practical advice you would give to someone starting out?
Personally, having communication and support from my parents helped me a lot, it was not very easy to convince them that I wanted to be a model, but I always had their support.
But the most valuable advice for me would be to have discipline, dedication, perseverance, and patience. In modelling like other professions, you must keep these things in mind a lot in order to continue growing within your work environment.
Another tip that I also consider very important is to preserve your essence, personality, and self-confidence. Do not try to imitate someone or try to be like someone you are not. I usually said to myself, “It is useless for you to be a robot and act like the rest do " especially when you are in a casting where there are 200 other people.
How you are and showing yourself that you are happy with who you are is noticed by other people around you and that's what makes you special in my opinion. People around you notice when you are happy with yourself as well as when you are not. Being who you are and being proud of it is what makes you special in my opinion.
4. What inspired you in your teenage years to become a model?
To be honest, at first, I did not contemplate being a model nor did it cross my mind. All this started when my mom signed me up for a contest when I turned 15 and she actually did it to encourage me to stop being so shy. Being in a photo session and on runways started keeping my attention and once I started to take it more professionally, having the opportunity to travel and get to know different places and cultures around the world was what motivated me the most.
5. What you have to say about the fashion industry's standard sizing issue? How can it be changed? How has it affected the mass market?
I think that sometimes they are very out of reality. I have had to see clothes that are made with extremely small measurements even for very thin models. This factor of "perfect or ideal measures" has been an incentive for several of the eating disorders that we know. We have seen how in the general public we have been shown that a very slim figure is the “ideal”, we see it daily in the advertisements around us.
I feel very happy that the change of this "ideal" is currently being sought. There are different types of bodies, and people. we are not all the same. So in my opinion, it is not correct to try to standardize them to a single idea of the "ideal or perfect body".
The fact that we started seeing more in the advertising media, different types of bodies, and the idea of being happy and accepting your body, is a great advance.
Since advertising media such as magazines, television, among others, are a very influential tool within our society, encouraging support within them to make this change and accept this mentality is very helpful.
6. The ASA UK's advertising regulator has banned influencers from using misleading filters on their promotional content. What do you think about this change? Are we on the path to a more transparent future?
Personally, I think it's incredible. I have been able to appreciate how with photoshop you can completely change a person in every sense of the word. As an influencer, you have an incredible influence on the people who follow you, you are the "role model" of many people. Social media is a big tool to communicate. When you communicate and stop hiding or stop trying to change something of your physical appearance with photoshop because it does not fit the standards that have been imposed in society. It is a great step.
7. Do you think because of the media there is a specific definition of ‘perfection’ that most people want to achieve?
Of course, yes. For a long time, we have seen how the media sells us the idea of the “perfect body”. We see it daily in advertisements around us, promoting this idea in society and that if you do not look like that, then there is something wrong with the way you look or the way you are. On many occasions, this idea or this search for perfection is taken to the extreme in order to fit within this stereotype.
8. If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would you say to her?
I would tell myself that I am perfect just the way I am. That I must believe in myself to achieve everything that I want and that I have the capacity to do so. That I do not need approval from someone else or feel the need, to have to fit in, to be able to consider that something is good or convenient for me.