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The Life of Model and Student Clara McSweeney

The Life of Model and Student Clara McSweeney

"I couldn't see myself doing anything else at this stage. It has given me a lot of independence and confidence which I'm grateful for"

Clara McSweeney is not your typical 18 year old teenager. The Cork woman is set to take the fashion world by storm after being signed to IMG models in America and Elite models UK. 

Clara spoke to Campus.ie about her modelling career, her plans after school and how she used to struggle with self confidence.

It all began for Clara three years ago when the 15 year old signed up to take part in Andrea Roche’s Model Bootcamp in Dublin. Clara was signed by Andrea after this and she described the experience as surprising.

“Andrea must've seen something in me and signed me. I was really naïve to the whole thing. At the time I really wasn't expecting any of this to happen,” Clara explains. She added: “After the Bootcamp she just randomly rang me saying she wants me to model for her. I'll never forget the feeling I got after getting that phone call.”

She still models for Andrea and loves the life in Dublin. She speaks of the other models highly, saying that they are all “really close” because of the fashion shows they do together. “It’s like a family in Dublin,” she reveals.

At only 16, Clara was signed to Elite Models UK and is still working with them. She also travelled to New York at 16, but unfortunately was rejected by numerous agencies. However Clara didn't let this hold her back.

She always had a dream of going to the Big Apple and on March 30th of this year, she went there again. Luckily this trip was better. “I called into around six agencies over in New York and they were all interested, so I got to choose which agency I liked the most and who I got on with the most, which was IMG,” she explains.

After such a successful trip, she expresses her love for New York. “I feel like New York is the place for me at the moment anyway, I feel like I fit in more and being over there really has had a good impact on my confidence," she explains. "I think just being over in New York and the feeling of being wanted, and just that nice feeling that all the work I've put into it has paid off.”

On being asked if modelling has changed her life in a drastic way, Clara emphasised that it had changed her life,"in the best way possible." "I couldn't see myself doing anything else at this stage. It has given me a lot of independence and confidence which I'm grateful for,” she adds.

Obviously life as a model can be quite difficult. There is a lot of emphasis placed on how you look and the lifestyle you live. Models are often turned away and this can be quite harmful when it comes to self-esteem and overall confidence.

Clara spoke of how she was often turned away by agencies because she needed to lose weight in order to get the job. “Over in London I struggled a lot with getting judged about my weight and how I'm just not skinny enough. They told me I would only get jobs if I was thinner,” she reveals.

She also spoke of how her skin played a huge role in determining what jobs she could get. “I also got an awful doing for my skin. I had a few spots due to hormones that I just couldn't get rid of. I never felt good enough over in London and it really messed up my self-confidence,” she adds.

However Clara is a strong woman who took this feedback on board and instead of trying to lose weight in an unhealthy way, she decided to start living a healthy lifestyle along with exercising. She now speaks of her lifestyle as part of the job. “It's just a part of a models job really. To keep healthy and to stay fit. I obviously love to indulge in chocolate too though,” she says laughing.

Clara is a Leaving Certificate student in St.Mary’s Secondary School in Macroom in Cork. At the moment she is bogged down with school work and so has decided to ease off the modelling jobs until she is finished. She finds it nice to have a break as she gets to see her friends more and socialise with them whenever she wants.

After finishing school she plans to take a year out and explore her opportunities, especially in New York. “I'm just really excited to finally get to put all of my effort into the modelling and not have to juggle it with school, and just work really hard at it,” she explains “I'm just having fun with it really. I'm not gonna allow myself to be pressurised into something I don't want to do anyway.

When I was younger I always used to love doing little photo shoots with my sister and I always loved to dress up with my friends and take pictures. I always had an interest in modelling and photography for some reason.”

From speaking to Clara it is clear that she is driven and determined and has great plans for the future. “I still have a long ways to go, but I'm so excited for the future.” 

Source: Campus.ie 15/4/15 

Anna Cullen