Morgan Lily McGlothan is a plus size model, filmmaker and artist born and raised in L.A. Morgan inspires us to be comfortable with our most authentic selves and acknowledge that the unique traits we bring to the table are what empowers us.

SHEER: Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you're from.

MORGAN LILY MCGLOTHAN: I’m a 23 year old from the West Los Angeles area. I went to film school at CalArts, graduated in 2017 & have been modeling for a little over a year now! I’m a black woman, a plus size woman, a filmmaker, an artist, and an Aries - for anyone wondering!

SHEER: What inspired you to start modeling?

MLM: I’ve always been into being in front of the camera, but college was the first time I really started to experiment with my look & post photos of myself on the internet. I used to buy a lot of clothes and take OOTDs all the time for my Tumblr account (RIP), but during that time I also started to get more comfortable with my face & body because I was always taking pictures of myself and looking at myself in the mirror. My OOTDs brought some positive attention and a small community to my Instagram and Tumblr. Ultimately that’s what gave me the confidence boost that led me to taking my first modeling opportunity with Big Bud Press.

SHEER: How do you navigate the beauty and fashion industries as a woman of color?

MLM: On shoots I often take on the responsibility of being both the only plus size and the only black model on set. It can be isolating, because none of the other models look like me, but I have to remind myself that it isn’t always a bad thing. It’s good to stand out, and that just pushes me to work harder and show up better on set. I try to remember that I’m bringing something valuable to the shoot and even if I feel alone, that I have an important job to do. I also always bring my own makeup and hair products just in case. I’ve never run into an opportunity to need it, but I’m always a bit worried that someone won’t have a foundation match or know what to do with my hair.

SHEER: How do you believe the fashion industry can work towards more body positive inclusivity?

MLM: Before we can have more plus size models, we need more brands to make plus size clothing - the range of people who fit within the Small, Medium & Large categories is so slim! The average American woman is between a size 14 and 16, which means they lie right on the cusp of being able to shop in the average store. It’s ridiculous and sad to know how many women feel alienated from fashion because of their bodies. This goes for men too! There are tons of mens brands that don’t go past a 2X, and there are so many larger men who want to participate in fashion!

I feel like clothing designers need to expand their view of the customer. I’m a fat woman, and I want to look good and have the ability to express myself through my clothing like anyone else. Having a larger body doesn’t suddenly remove that desire from you. I feel like high fashion brands have the power to change the tides and the standards. If more high fashion brands made the effort to be inclusive and represent people of all sizes on runways and in their stores, I want to believe that other brands would follow suit. Also to all the brands who claim they offer plus clothing, but their sizes only go up to a 3X - that isn’t plus size! My body isn’t nearly close to the end of the size spectrum and I often wear a 3XL. 

SHEER: Who are some models, past or present, that you look up to?

MLM: I look up to a lot of black female models, mainly. Icons like Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell of course - they’re goddesses and they’ve been working forever. They’ve been majorly integral in the uplifting of black women in the fashion industry. But I also have been really inspired by more contemporary models like La’Shaunae Steward - I’ve been a fan of hers for years and it’s been incredible to see her success blossom. I also look at women like Lizzo, who aren’t models but are continuing to pave the way for fat black women to be viewed publicly as beautiful and talented.

SHEER: What photographers would you love to work with?

MLM: There are literally too many to list! Before I started working in film, my medium was photography - I have a deep love for the craft and a huge desire to get back into it. I’ve only been photographed by a few people of color and would love to work with more black photographers. Some photographers whose work I love are Tyler Mitchell, Campbell Addy, Myles Loftin, Adrienne Raquel, Deun Ivory, Brandon Stanciell, Mark Clennon, and Travis Matthews.

SHEER: What are some of your favorite brands you hope to partner with in the future?

MLM: I want to be a model who is versatile in where they work, I want to eventually tap into as many markets as possible - high fashion, active wear, swim, runway. I don’t know if it’s possible, but I want to try. I’d love to model for brands I’m obsessed with and wear - like Universal Standard, Glossier, Nike or Adidas. I would love to walk a runway for high fashion brands like Christian Siriano, Jeffrey Campbell, or Zac Posen. I also want to work with a black owned brand so bad! Like Cee Cee’s Closet or Premme.

SHEER: What advice do you have for young women of color who are pursuing a modeling career and don't fit the standard "norm" we see repeatedly in mainstream media?

MLM: It’s going to feel isolating at times, but remember that your uniqueness is going to be what sets you apart and what draws people to you. The modeling world needs you and we're at this really beautiful transition where people are trying to look outside of the norm for models. Know your worth and remember that you're providing something valuable & different. Whoever is asking to work with you is doing so for a reason!