"I have a love-hate relationship with my belly": Model Lulu Bonfils on learning to love her body and dealing with trolls
Lulu says on the hard days that you find it difficult to love yourself, it is important to find the support to build up confidence.
Lulu Bonfils is the cool teenager you always wanted to be. From a thorough understanding of who she is even at the tender age of 16 to boldly embracing her true self, she is every bit the role model you would want for your young ones.
With her womanly body and babyface, Lulu has more or less conquered the fashion world, having already modeled for the likes of Diesel and Gucci.
And, even though she has just graduated from junior year of high school, this gorgeous model has also walked the prestigious New York fashion week.
An artist at heart, Lulu - new face of Wilhelmina International Inc. - is among the young leaders heralding the welcome wave of body positivity that will set us free from the prison that is unrealistic aspiration for photoshopped bodies of magazines and websites. Meaww recently had a chat with the young model, who revealed to us, the secret to loving oneself.
Here are the edited excerpts from Meaww's interview with Lulu:
Firstly, congratulations on all your success. You have been described by many, and I agree, as the cool teenager we all wished to be. As a high schooler yourself, is that how you look at yourself?
Lulu: Thank you! I think it’s hard for me to think of myself as “cool”, but I definitely felt very proud and aware of who I was as a person in high school, and I still do now. I think I look at myself as someone who knows themselves really well and I’ve worked really hard to get to that point. I think now, I very much know what I like and I know what I want so I feel like that’s pretty cool!
How would you describe your personality?
Lulu: I recently realized a lot of people I’ve met thought that I’d be a kind of cold and aloof, but I feel like I’m pretty much the opposite of that. I’m really shy and quiet around new people, but I love to be super friendly and make people feel comfortable even if I’m not. I’d describe myself as a little reserved but very transparent, friendly and bubbly.
You are one of the biggest advocates of body positivity. What made you want to go on this journey?
Lulu: I think it was a fairly natural progression for me into the body acceptance world. As a child I never had a major problem with my body or an outstanding issue with confidence, but as I got older I gravitated towards the ideas of helping other people feel more comfortable in their given bodies and accepting themselves.
The idea of growth and a stronger relationship to my body really resonated with me, as well as the feeling of non-inclusion in the fashion world.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you have faced since deciding to celebrate your body – supposed flaws and all?
Lulu: I definitely experience hurdles with my confidence, it’s really natural to have those ups and downs and off days where you just don’t feel attractive. I try to pick myself up as best I can on those days and look in the mirror and acknowledge how special of a person I am regardless of my looks and reassure myself that I’m beautiful.
Some days are harder than others but, in the end, it can go a long way to look for help within your friends and family, that support can definitely bring my confidence up again.
What are some of your most favorite physical features about yourself? Have you always loved them or did you have to learn to love it over the years?
Lulu: I love my thighs! I also love my nose and my eyes. I actually always really enjoyed the look of really thick thighs since I was young, I think I just loved the look of a fuller, older woman. It gave off a confidence that I thought was really unique, so I was really happy when I hit puberty and my thighs came in!
I have a small love/hate relationship with my belly, as I feel like a lot of people do. It’s a very sensitive spot for a lot of people but I don’t think I’ve ever truly hated my own body, I think the irrationality of those thoughts stopped me from really taking it to heart.
In the recent couple of years, we have had many body positive models such as yourself. Have you seen a change in the fashion industry as a whole about the definition of beauty or is it just among plus size models and body positivity advocates?
Lulu: I’ve definitely seen a powerful shift in the jobs I’m doing, the models I’m doing them with, and the clients that are paying attention to this movement. I’ve seen the whole industry shift as a whole in a very big way in the past four years.
When I first started modeling I never really thought it was possible for me to get as mainstream and widely seen jobs as I have. I feel that especially recently, those dividing terms are becoming less and less relevant and people have started to hire models based on who they are, rather than just measurements.
What is the best way to respond to an online troll? - Put them on blast, have a hilarious comeback or ignore?
Lulu: I love a good comeback. I think the initial idea to try and bully a random stranger for their looks or whatever, is just a really irrational and weird idea in the first place and usually highlights their own issues. I have a good time usually just giving them a good slam. Most of the time I’ll ignore it or delete it just because I don’t like that negativity in my own virtual space.
Among all the beauty campaigns and modelling gigs you have been a part of, which has been your favorite and why?
Lulu: I’ve had so many favorites! Probably one of my favorites would be a shoot I did for Nylons print issue with my friends Julia and Mayan from Me and You running it. Julia was styling and Mayan was the photographer.
My friends Salem, Gabby, Jada, and Ami were a part of it and it was a real bonding experience for me. We were wearing a lot of vintage Chanel in an old home in upstate New York and it felt like a genuine moment of creating art with my friends.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations in terms of Instagram celebs and otherwise?
Lulu: I think my biggest inspirations will always be my friends. I have a lot of really driven, intelligent, confident friends and their outfit choices always spark a little creativity in myself and my own outfit ideas. I think we all just feed into each other's creativity and are constantly recycling our inspiration between us.
What have been some of the most favorite feedback you have received from your fans?
Lulu: My favorite feedback to hear from anyone is that I’ve helped them in some way, big or small, with their own confidence and self-love. Nothing feels as rewarding and makes my time feel worthy as someone telling me my work has helped them. I think that’s the real driving force of everything I do.
Could you tell us a little bit about your career bucket list? Some of the designers, photographers and artists you would like to work with? Is music or acting on the cards?
Lulu: I love to personally work with a lot of young upcoming designers and I love supporting small independent creative people. I have a really fast moving, ambitious brain so ideally, I want to do it all!
I love learning about new fields and professions so hopefully I’ll continue expanding my work and helping people through different facets as well as modeling. I always want to continue making art no matter what I’m doing, I don’t think that will ever stop.
You have an amazing future ahead of you. What are some of the specifics you want in it?
Lulu: I want to continue modeling and to grow bigger and better and work with more people and artists, I want to continue my own practices in my art and continue working in art school; I want to eventually experiment in the radio field, do some writing, and keep exploring new things forever.