'Talking It Out': Chelsea Vaughn on Her Thriving Modeling Career and Facing Racism in the Fashion Industry
Chelsea Vaughn stopped by “Talking It Out” to chat with co-hosts Mike Johnson and Bryan Abasolo about her modeling career.
The New York City-based “Bachelor” Season 25 star opened up about all of the incredible things she’s accomplished in the industry since leaving her day job in corporate fashion in 2018.
“I’ve done New York Fashion Week a bunch of times. A lot of bridal fashion shows. I did Paris Fashion Week for the first time last year,” she said, listing off impressive lines from her jam-packed résumé. “I was on a billboard in Times Square last year. I was in British Vogue last year. Those are just a few of the things.”
Chelsea said she reached the apex of her modeling career just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
“It was kind of at the peak of my career, honestly, when COVID started. It was last March that I was actually in Paris for Fashion Week. We got back just in time before they closed the borders. It got really slow,” she recalled. “One of my agencies closed for a while. There was no work. Fashion Week’s not been anywhere near close to the same since then. Even last month, everything is virtual. I’d usually be running around to a bunch of castings in February, which is the busiest time for me.”
However, Chelsea noted that things are “starting to pick back up.” She elaborated, “I’m hoping that when the vaccines get out to more people then we can kind of get back to normal because the energy you get when you do a live show, there’s nothing like that,” she said. “And virtual without an audience, it’s just sad.”
During her interview with Mike and Bryan, the stunning Georgia native also spoke about the challenges of being a Black woman in the modeling world.
“Hair and makeup is a whole different story because… there’s rarely a person there that knows how to do my hair, knows how to do my makeup without being afraid of it or having to get help from the only Black stylist on set,” she explained.
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Elsewhere, Chelsea discussed the prevalence of colorism in the fashion industry.
“Colorism’s the idea that the closer to white you get, the better that is. It kind of trickles into everything. And not even just Black people. Colorism affects a lot of different races, the Asian community, the Latino community,” she said, adding that colorism entered her mind when comparing herself to other women of color who made it farther in the competition for Matt James’ final rose.
“That was something that I thought about when I was on ‘The Bachelor,’ too, because I was the last non-mixed Black woman that was on my season,” she said.
Asked if she was able to provide specific examples of racism she has faced in fashion, Chelsea responded, “People will straight up tell things to your face in the modeling industry. So, people were just like, ‘There’s another Black girl on the roster. We can’t sign you. There’s already one Black girl.’”
These days, Chelsea works with agencies who embrace her completely. “When I started [looking for agencies], they were like, ‘You’re too old, you’re too Black, you’re too big,’” she revealed. “So, there was a lot of hurdles to face but the agencies that I’m with now don’t really care so much about measurements anymore. They have a lot of different sizes on their client list.”
She continued, “I got to the point where I’m like, ‘I’m too old for this. I don’t care. I would much rather have an agency that wants me for who I am than try to fit into this one where I’m going to kill myself trying to fit into certain measurements and just sit on their roster and they’re not even going to book me for any jobs.’”
Listen to the latest edition of “Talking It Out with Mike & Bryan” below.
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