Ismee Kok: hbm muse

For this story I shot my beautiful friend, self-proclaimed ‘curve’ model, Ismee Kok. I also asked her a few questions about life and what body confidence is all about. (text: Vera Le Savoy)

Where are you from?

I grew up on this small Dutch island, off in the north sea called Texel. It’s a beautiful place, very quiet, nothing really happens there. I started going to school by myself at age 6, people leave their houses unlocked … it’s a very safe place. It’s a small community, everybody knows each other.

Sounds idyllic, why leave?

As a teenager I started to grow this urge to go out and explore the rest of the world. I wanted to experience the thrills of the big city life, you know? When I was sixteen, I decided to move to Amsterdam by myself, and finish high school there. When I graduated, I got a job, moved around a little bit, and got into modelling, which I’ve been doing for about 6 years now.

Let’s talk about that some more, when I first met you years ago, you were a ‘regular’ model, what was your life like back then?

I was constantly struggling with my weight. I worked out every day, and was on a strict diet, but I’d still always be the biggest girl at castings. My self-esteem was very low at that point, I even started studying food & nutrition, just to see if I could find the key to being thin. Then, when I was 18, I stopped modelling because I couldn’t take the pressure anymore.

Right now you’re modelling again, and you’re more successful than you’ve ever been, what’s changed?

A modelling agency approached me and asked if I was interested in becoming a ‘curve model’, which I didn’t even know existed, until then I’d only heard of plus size. I signed with them, and with a bunch of other agencies all over Europe that all became more interested in taking on curvier girls. As a curve model, the work you get is a lot more commercial, which I don’t mind, because that’s where the money’s at. Now, I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin, and it’s nice to finally feel accepted.

What else makes you happy?

My family, friends … and most of all animals (laughs). Yes, I just love surrounding myself with animals, I could do it all day. But having good people in my life means everything to me. I can happily live anywhere in the world, it’s the people in my life that make me feel at home.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I really can’t wait to be a mother, haha. That has always been one of my main goals in life, so I hope that’s going to happen for me. I’d also love to still be working as a curve model and hope to publicly inspire young people to be comfortable in their own skin.