Hayley Hasselhoff: More To Her Than A Famous Father

This article was first published on Onya Magazine on May 16 2014

She’s 21, a plus size model, body image advocate, actor, singer, the kind of woman you instantly wish was your best friend… oh and the daughter of the one and only David Hasselhoff. On her first jam-packed visit to Australia, Fashion Ed Brittany Stewart managed to steal some time with the gorgeous and vivacious Hayley Hasselhoff to talk all things body confidence, staying true to yourself and never dressing for the weather .

How are you enjoying your first visit to Australia?

I love it. I love the people – they’re so down to earth. Everyone is so free spirited, have good hearts and they actually show it. There are a lot of places where people can have good hearts but they don’t necessarily show it, but with you guys its just so easy and fun.

Now you’ve been a model since you were 14, what was it like when you first started?

It came about pretty spontaneously. I always knew I was going to be in the industry in some way, because I’ve always let my emotions out through creativity, like singing, acting and painting. I was always the one my parents knew wasn’t going to go to college, I was going to follow my dreams. I was going to go into acting, but modeling came about because my dad’s publicist set me up with Ford, I had a meeting with them, got signed right away and then became the face of Torrid in America, which is like the #1 plus sized brand for younger demographics. I did that for a couple of years then I naturally lost the weight, so things shifted a little bit more as plus sized really stays true to plus size which I really respect. Then I booked a lead in this series on ABC family, so did acting for a while and a bit of singing, now I’m just getting back into the modelling world and this huge plus sized movement.

You seem very confident and comfortable in yourself – has it always been like that?

I’ve always been comfortable and confident with who I am as a person because I figured out at a very young age you’re going to get a lot further in life mentally, physically and in this business with success if I’m who I am and not someone I’m trying to be, or something someone else thinks I should be. I figured it out very young, so I’ve always just kind of stuck with it. Not saying I don’t have bad days, but those bad days are good days as well in my view, as you need to have bad days to get to the good ones.

There are some conflicting ideas over what plus size is in the modelling industry compared to outside – what exactly does ‘plus size’ in industry terms mean?

I love that you’ve said that, because that’s what I’ve been trying to clear up this entire time! Straight size is 0-6, plus size usually starts at 10 or 12, but there’s no in between. So if you were a size 8, and you were 5’11”, then you are far more likely to be on the plus size board, than the straight size board. Straight size is obviously pretty strict on size 6, so if you’re curvy then you’re on the plus size board. What I mean by curvy is someone who just has more of a shape to them. But I think the difference is that there is plus size modeling in campaigns and editorials and then there’s plus size modeling on the runway. Plus size modeling on the runway usually gets associated with body image and being a body advocate. Campaigns and editorials generally pick and choose when to say they’re plus size.

Do you ever hope that when you’re modelling, you can be appreciated just as a model rather than distinguished separately as a ‘plus sized’ model?

Yes, of course. I think that that is happening, but because I am someone who is also talking about body image, being a body advocate, I think that firstly, the label doesn’t hinder me, I don’t have a negative output on it. Secondly, I think it helps people understand the message I’m trying to bring when I’m talking beyond the modelling. But people don’t realise there are actually quite a lot of plus sized models in magazines, but they’re not labeled plus size, particularly models doing editorials for trends and lingerie – I know they’re plus size but the industry kind of picks and chooses when they want to put plus size up there. I think that’s where its getting a little bit confusing, and especially with some runway shows using half real models, half street models it’s like, well what does plus size represent? And when there aren’t those separations, that is where it gets confusing for everyone.

I read somewhere that you said you believed plus size models were actually more likely to be toned and fitter than straight size models – is this true?

I don’t want to say that that is always the case as I can never speak for anyone else and especially a group of people that I don’t know their lives or regimes so I would never want to put down the straight size industry. However, when it comes to plus size models I do know that we take care of ourselves because the thing is that with plus size, what you see is what you get. What that photographer sees behind the camera is what you see in that publication. The thing with plus size is they tend to try not to airbrush you. Yes, they may do a blemish here or there, that’s inevitable, but the body they’re going to keep pretty true to fact. They do that because they represent a real woman’s curves and they want everyone who’s looking at the magazine to feel comfortable and confident. They want them to think “Hey, if this this girl is wearing it and looking beautiful in her own shape, then I can feel this way as well”, and that’s where I think it really comes in to play.

But for me, I work out as much as I can. I eat healthy just for my own self. What you put in your body really does affect your body and soul, so you have to take that in consideration not just for weight loss but for yourself. I don’t do it for weight loss, I do it to feel good.

Last month you attended and walked at British Plus Size Fashion Weekend – what was that like?

It was amazing. The support the girls give you backstage is just outstanding. There were 16 designers and I walked in 13 of them. I opened and closed most of them, so it was quite hectic, but amazing – I wouldn’t have had it any other way. And that’s a perfect example, British Fashion Weekend wasn’t just about the designers… I mean ideally it was just about fashion and designers but you have to put it into context that the creators and the brands behind plus size fashion are really trying to give the message of real woman with curves, all different shapes and sizes, all different age groups, can be presented in a beautiful light. And I think that’s where runway and all these new shows intertwine that thought and theory.

Do you think we can expect to see events like that becoming part of mainstream fashion week any time soon?

I feel like this was different, because it was 16 designers in one show, it’s not one show for a single designer. I think that if it was a plus size fashion week, then we’d need to see looks done based on a single size, so size 10 or 12 or 14, because its closer to what’s already been done and true to how it is done in the straight size world. I think right now, however, it’s all about getting to the point where we are all accepted in the same light, so you need to have the same sophistication that straight size designers bring.


Is the body image movement progressing?




Is there anything you’d like to see happen soon?


I’d like to see high-end designers opening up their sizes. I also think it’s a good business move for them. You’ve got to realize there’s so many curvy girls and that’s why these shows are so impactful, because you get to see what’s available out there all around the world in one show. And I didn’t know that. Torrid in the US and maybe Target, that’s where my mind goes to for plus size. But I don’t generally wear plus size brands, because I’ve found what works for my body type. But after being in that show, I was like “Wow, there’s actually a lot of really good brands here that I would wear”. But I hope high-end designers one day will go to a higher size. It’s baby steps. Obviously it won’t happen overnight, but the next step would be having it available online. If it bothers you, don’t put it in your stores, have it available online. But make it available.


How would you describe your own personal style?


I like a lot of relaxed tailoring, I do a lot of luxurious silk fabrics. The thing with me is I really do dress for me, so it really depends on how I’m feeling that day. So I seem to go through these phases of three months, where I’ll have one look that I stick with. Right now I’m really into drop crotch, leathers and layering and I never dress for the weather, which is probably a big issue! When people tell me I’ve got way too much in my closet and need to store half it away in seasons, I’m like “Seasons!? What are those!” because I don’t follow it, I follow me. I think I tend to either go for a relaxed tailored look with a rocker edge feel, or for a very classic silhouette with a vintage vibe. I love vintage pieces. I think that’s where I get most of my gems, to be honest with you. I love mixing high-end designers with vintage pieces.


Would you ever consider going into fashion yourself?


One hundred percent. My dream is to make a 1960′s lingerie line. I think that’s because that structure and seam line is really flattering on any body shape and because I’ve been wearing lingerie since I was a little girl, weirdly enough – just because I like feeling pretty for myself when I go to bed. When I say lingerie I mean lingerie but also nightgowns and silks and robes, that kind of luxuriousness. With lingerie, you either buy it to feel beautiful for yourself, or you buy it to feel beautiful for someone else.


Have you had a chance to go shopping in Australia yet or have you got any favourite local designers?


I haven’t gone shopping as such, but I’ve done a couple of shoots. I did a shoot the other day and I was wearing Country Road and Witchery. It was really funny because I was talking to my dresser and she was like I didn’t think you’d like that kind of stuff, but that’s the thing, I change so drastically. Either I go really edge and rock or I go pretty. I have a look for everything. I’m going to the opera and all I want to do is glide in. That’s the cool thing about clothes; you get to make the experience so much more appealing. It becomes an experience with what you wear and how you present yourself, and it’s just fun.


Finally, what would be your ultimate style advice for people who are struggling with body image, or who just want to feel great in their own skin? 


Look at the magazines, learn those tips, look at people’s inspirations, but at the end of the day, what’s going to look best is what you feel comfortable in. Go to the department store and try on short dresses, long dresses, short pants, high-waisted pants – try everything on and find out what works best for your body, not for a body that’s a model in the magazine who they say is a pear shape just like you. There are probably 17 different pear shapes, more! Go find what works best for your body type and although the process might be long and hard, when you get there you’re going to be so much more comfortable with walking out of that house and feeling great.