Cara Delevingne has been the ‘it’ model since she burst onto the scene in 2011. She single-handily made big brows popular again and quickly joined the ranks of the infamous ‘Insta-models,’ becoming the go-to for every major runway show and campaign going. She was from the outset, at least, living her best life, enjoying the perks of being one of the most popular models in the fashion industry. As her face and distinctive eyebrows became ubiquitous across catwalks and in magazines, Delevigne established a strong social following for sharing candid photos that rallied against the ‘perfect’ images presented on Instagram. She was unashamedly herself; goofy, funny and down-to-earth.
She was awarded Model of the Year in 2015 and soon after, she began to step away from the career that propelled her into the public domain. She left her modelling agency to focus on acting and quickly landed plum roles in major movies: Paper Towns, Pan, Tulip Fever, London Fields and Suicide Squad. She even called out the paparazzi for going too far.
Over time, I came to realise that work and getting others’ approval isn’t the most important thing.
She has spoken in various interviews about leaving modelling behind, unafraid to speak about the unhappiness it caused her. Now, she has she written about her experience of the industry and her decision to leave modelling in more detail in a blog for Motto, and it makes for quite a read.
She said that as she became increasingly successful, she was also increasingly relying on validation from others to feel good about herself, and this wasn’t a route she wanted to keep going down.
“I was nearly 20 and had been modelling for several years. My vantage point had changed…and I had changed. As a result, I lost sight of myself and what it meant to be happy, what it meant to be successful. I think it all stemmed from a deep-down feeling of wanting people to like me and love me. I knew I had to reevaluate my life and my goals for my future. I didn’t want to resent fashion or my success. The process didn’t happen overnight, but it was imperative for me to preserve my integrity,” she said. “I said ‘Wait, what am I trying to do? Who am I doing this for?’”
“Over time, I came to realise that work and getting others’ approval isn’t the most important thing. Yes, your career is very important—but it’s not the most important. Of course, I was proud of my accomplishments, but I wasn’t genuinely happy.”
A photo posted by Cara Delevingne (@caradelevingne) on
She writes about her quest for self-acceptance candidly and honestly and, as one of the defining faces of her generation, should be applauded for taking risks and putting herself first. She isn’t opting for the safe route and is defying industry expectations in favour of her own happiness.
And as she so eloquently sums it up: “After all, no matter how many people like you and your work, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like yourself.”
Read her letter in full here