THRIVHER INTERVIEW: Jessica Leahy

Updated: Mar 23, 2019


Photo Credit: Kristina Soljo


Model, Writer and founder of Project WomanKIND



Quick DIVE


Can't start the day without: Making my bed.

Go-to coffee or tea: I don't drink either - I always have apple juice.

Best read of all time for personal growth: I recently read WILD by Cheryl Strayed and I think every woman in her twenties needs to read this.

Favourite quote: Kindness; sprinkle that sh*t everywhere!

Top music track to get pumped for the day or a task: Anything Cardi B.

Most afraid of: Not being myself. Authenticity should be key.

Go-to for fun or to let your hair down: Hanging out with friends at the beach, eating amazing food and relaxing.



Today, you’re fulfilling a vision and a mission. Looking back, can you identify when you first thought about becoming a model?

I think hindsight is such an interesting thing to have in life, I would never have thought to become a plus-size model when I was young, because it simply wasn't something that happened back then. All the models in the magazines were all thin, there wasn't the diversity that there is today. So I never really thought I would be a model.


A lot of my friends fell into the pitfalls of anorexia and bulimia, some so severely that they were hospitalised. I think because of my upbringing in New Guinea, I always had a very different view on body image. The cultural perspective there placed far more emphasis on being grateful for having a working body, which allows you to work and play and that fosters a healthy attitude towards body image.


Of course, I am conscious of my appearance, but I have an appreciation for how I look regardless of external pressures and influences - it doesn't dictate who I am. I think it's that self-confidence which has enabled me to succeed in this industry. There are constant rejections and people turning you down so you need to have thick skin and self-belief.


Of course, I am conscious of my appearance, but I have an appreciation for how I look regardless of external pressures and influences - it doesn't dictate who I am


Photo credit: Amy Hibbard


How did you get into modeling initially?

Through a competition in a newspaper around ten years ago! My aunt persuaded me to enter. I actually missed the deadline for the competition, but I was offered a contract anyway. So it happened by chance really, I didn't grow up dreaming of being a model.



How has your modelling career been shaped over the ten years that you’ve been in the industry?

When I started there were only a handful of companies in Australia doing plus-size clothing and curvy or inclusive styles of marketing. It was really exciting although it felt incredibly patronizing and chauvinistic at times because the thin, tall, leggy look was still very dominant. It didn’t always feel great, but now it has changed so much and so many brands are really starting to embrace diversity, it's a big step in the right direction.