There’s a new Irish model taking the world by storm, one brand at a time. In this interview, our Entertainment Editor Michaela Deane speaks to Mary-Kate Lanigan about keeping fit, body confidence and the perks of being a model.
Spotted in London by a scout at the tender age of 14, Mary-Kate Lanigan couldn’t quite believe that the modelling industry had shown an interest in her.
Almost ten years on, the Kilkenny beauty has proved impressionable with more than one company, modelling for Vogue Italia, Abercrombie and Fitch and Jeffrey Campbell to name a few.
Before being spotted, the thought had never entered Mary-Kate’s mind that she had what it took to become a model. But this experience stuck in her mind, the idea of doing something so glamorous and fun for a living appealed to her as much as it would to any young girl.
When asked if her experience of modelling lived up to her expectations, Mary-Kate replied that it most definitely had.
“As the years have gone by, the jobs have gotten better and more fun because you know more people on set and in the industry. I loved seeing all the great editorials being published every month. Growing up and having a job that allows you to see how much thought and work goes into each shoot is unbelievable.”
She added that being a model keeps her on her toes and interested, as she never knows what the next job will bring.
Maintaining her figure is something that’s necessary in Mary Kate's field of modelling, but it’s not something that Mary-Kate finds too difficult.
Representing Ireland in athletics with both the high jump and sprinting, she’s always been athletic and sporty. Now she does reformer Pilates and tries to fit the gym into her hectic schedule whenever she can.
Her main tip for keeping slim however is to drink lots of water, Mary-Kate says that it “always works wonders health wise” and aims to drink at least three litres per day.
When we think of the life of a model, we immediately assume that they’re under constant pressure to conform to ideals, looking a certain way and weighing a certain amount. However, Mary-Kate reassures us that it’s not always the case. “I don't think I've ever had someone tell me to change,” she said.
When she was in primary school, Mary-Kate was bullied and teased about some of her features. Modelling has been a positive experience for her in the sense that it helped her accept these features, and eventually fall in love with them.
“Strangely enough, working in this world has opened my eyes to seeing beauty in different ways,” she explained.
The modelling industry can be competitive at its best, but the Communications graduate says that it’s all about understanding your market.
Some girls are high fashion and some are commercial, and she says that after a couple of years, “you get to know what jobs you should aim for.”
Far from the jealous and competitive nature we see on shows like “America’s Next Top Model”, Mary-Kate explains that she feels nothing but warmth from the other models in her agency.
“We are all in this crazy, amazing industry together and all we do is share stories and laugh and just enjoy our jobs.”
Young girls aspire to be like the models they see on television and in magazines, and there’s been a lot of media coverage lately over whether or not these models are an appropriate size for young girls to look up to.
Mary-Kate agrees with the fact that magazines have huge responsibility in telling girls what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to their bodies, but feels that the positivity on social media helps to balance this out, saying:
“It has given us a whole new lease of what is beautiful; I don't think readers or viewers tolerate such a close minded outlook on beauty anymore, I know I certainly don't.
"I think being healthy is beautiful, because that’s when an individual's body is the way it should be; whether it's being slim or curvy.”
She also adds that young girls shouldn’t base their role models solely on beauty or clothes, and that they should look for something deeper.
Having done so much in such a short time, Mary-Kate has had her share of great experiences in her career as a model.
She says that every time she sees herself on the cover of a magazine it’s a real “fist-pump moment”, but the highlight of her career so far was the Jeffrey Campbell campaign she shot in New York, describing it as “the most fun I have ever had in a shoot”.
Her future is also looking just as bright, as she’s working with some amazing hair brands at the minute. Mary-Kate loves doing jobs like this because of the creativity involved: “I am useless at taming my mane so getting it styled in wacky ways is always a treat.”
With a beautiful face and a bubbly personality to match, there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more of Mary-Kate in the future.
Along with the likes of Rozanna Purcell and Coco Rocha, we’re sure she’ll take the modelling world by storm.