Meet Julia Rose Miller, the winner of Torrid‘s 2018 Model Search. Miller is originally from Texas but has her sights set on L.A. or New York, on her way to becoming the industry’s next top curvy model. Yahoo Lifestyle has followed Miller’s journey since Torrid staged its historic first fashion show during NYFW in September 2017. At the time, Miller was one of the top 10 finalists, narrowed down from a pool of 15,000 applicants after a nationwide search. Now, months later, Miller is the 2018 winner of an exclusive modeling contract with Torrid and will serve as an official brand ambassador. Yahoo Lifestyle spoke with Miller to gauge her thoughts and feelings on being the winner, her goals, and what still lies ahead.
Yahoo Lifestyle: In a past interview with us, you mentioned how you were “bawling” your eyes out when you found out you were a finalist at NYFW. You said, “Everything I wished for was coming true.” Can you talk me through your journey from that moment to where you are now?
Miller: I’ve just had a smile on my face every day. I wake up and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity, and to say that I’m the new face [of Torrid] is something that blows my mind because all of the top 10 [models], all of them were beautiful, but I kept my fingers crossed. Because when you have a positive mindset things will come out positive. … Once I found out, I was completely in shock. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t because I was so happy. I just had a smile on my face every day from then on.
Where were you when you found out you were picked as the winner?
Torrid had invited me to a local Torrid [store] in my area. I had [gone] on a mini Torrid shopping spree and, as I was trying on outfits, picking out accessories … I came out of the dressing room and then they just dropped this big banner, “The new face of Torrid 2018” and I just couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Oh, my goodness, my life [is] about to change.”
Did you call your family right away?
Actually, my family was there. [Torrid] took me and my family out for dinner. They all knew, of course, but when I saw them walk in, I started crying because they got to experience such a special moment with me.
It seems like you’re on the verge of starting a very long, fruitful career in modeling. What do you hope to achieve? And what are your goals now that you’re the winner?
I definitely want to expand in the modeling industry, but for now I’m just going with the flow. I’m just taking everything one step at a time, and whatever I can get here and there, of course I would do it, but for now I just want to take this opportunity and help empower women and make them feel beautiful, and that’s a really big goal for me.
In a past interview, you mentioned you struggled with your body image and you battled bulimia. Can you tell us how you regained that body confidence and positivity?
My mother was very encouraging. She kind of helped me wake up and smell the roses. She constantly told me to look in the mirror and just tell myself, “I’m beautiful,” along with my sister as well. And I think there’s a point in your life when … you just have to realize your body is not going to change, nothing is going to change about you, so just express what you have. I mean, your mama gave it to you, so might as well flaunt it, right?
What would you say to women who don’t have a strong family network and unfortunately don’t look at themselves in a very positive light? Is there anything else besides a family network that you might suggest that they do?
I would say go on Instagram. Go find the people that inspire you. Read up on them and how they became inspired. Because you never know, that might help you as well.
And speaking of Instagram, is there anyone in the fashion industry on social media or as a whole that you currently look up to? It could be a model, designer, or someone else?
Where do you think we still need to go in terms of race, shape, and size across the industry?
I think the industry is becoming more inclusive of all sizes. I mean, [last] year at Fashion Week there were so many plus-size clothing brands … and I think that’s a change. And that’s why I’m honored to work with Torrid because they’re one of those inclusive brands that is focused on women feeling beautiful and empowered.
What are your thoughts on the term “plus size?” Do you want to be referred to as a plus-size model?
I feel like “plus size” is just a word at the end of the day. I understand why people say they don’t want to be labeled or alienated through a specific word … [but] you should not let it define you.
You mentioned you had dreams about moving to New York someday. Do you think now that you’ve won and your career is taking off that moving is on your horizon?
Well, now that I’m the new face of Torrid, it’s definitely been running through my mind, like “What’s next?” “Where do I want to go?” Because to me, I feel like I’m bigger than Texas, I feel like I need to go more places, but I’m kind of stuck between New York and Cali. But definitely for sure, Julia will be leaving Texas.
Do you have a favorite piece from the new Torrid collection?
Yes, one of my favorite pieces from the collection was actually one of the first looks to walk the runway. It was the faux leather jacket worn by Stella Duval.
Shop the NYFW Torrid collection now on torrid.com.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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