May 11, 2011
My favourite quotation is … Embrace the things that make you unique and make them your superpowers. – Janelle Monet (as submitted by Mia for her online bio on the Ben Barry Agency website)
It was with much sadness that we learned of the passing of our model Mia Amber Davis yesterday. She was an inspiration to us – even before we had the honour of representing and meeting her. She rose to the top of the plus size industry, challenging the ideals of beauty and breaking down barriers for other plus models. She was compassionate, charismatic and the utmost professional. We were thrilled to represent such a positive woman, one who embraced her curves in life, in print and on the runway and encouraged others to do the same. To witness the outpouring of emotion across the internet is to know Mia touched and inspired many.
Each new model to our agency fills out an information form which consists of several questions. It is always our joy to read their wonderful answers learning more about them and it is with much difficulty that we narrow down the responses to fit on their gallery page. We created this so our models, of all sizes and heights, could inspire others, especially young women, to be confident, to love their bodies and feel beautiful. Our models are not only models, but they are role models. Although some of the below appears in our gallery, we have decided to publish Mia’s answers in their entirety so you too can read the positivity, warmth and confidence that shines through her words. Let us all always honour Mia by continuing her leadership, drive and passion to build an inclusive and empowering fashion industry.
Born where? New York, NY
My family background is … from South Carolina but I am a first generation New Yorker. My grandfather, a sharecropper, wanted a better way of life for his wife and nine children so he moved north. I am an only child raised by a single mom. I’m blessed to be married to my best friend.
You may not know this but … watching TV is my guilty pleasure. I have only had cable for a few years because I love watching network television so much. I can find entertainment in almost any television program. It’s true.
Age I started modelling … 25.
Recently … I was hand-picked by Kimora Lee Simmons to be one of the faces of her new, “KLS Gold” Skincare line. I was the only full figured model chosen.
I just fulfilled a personal goal when I shot an online campaign for JMS/Just My Size. Five years ago, I stood in line for eight hours in the hopes of winning a contest to be a model for JMS.
Other than modelling … I’m an actor who got my big break as Rhonda in the cult classic, “Road Trip.” I am a TV producer who has worked on numerous talk/dating/variety and cooking shows and have a BFA in television and radio. I’m a style consultant for aspiring plus models. I love to travel speaking at empowerment seminars for plus-size women and I’ve just launched a line of tank tops for curvy girls!
People don’t know this but … when I was a little girl I wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to make clothing from sheets, scarves, towels and any other fabrics I could get my hands on.
I absolutely can’t live without … laughter. I am one of the silliest girls I know! A good laugh is priceless.
To me, beauty is … selflessness
I learned about beauty from … the women in my family. My grandmother was independent and strong yet nurturing and generous. My mother taught me about enhancing my beauty through dance, hair, make-up and charity. My aunts taught me not to be ashamed of my curves and how to embrace my body. All of the women in my family led by example.
I feel most beautiful when … I’m in a roller set! I have no idea why but a great roller set with giant rollers and pins makes me feel stunningly feminine and powerful like Sophia Lauren.
I express myself through fashion by … wearing whatever I want to. Growing up money was scarce. We made weekly pilgrimages to the Salvation Army to get clothing for an ever growing me. As a result, I was teased mercilessly on the playground during recess. Those experiences back then led me to have my own sense of style which I cherish dearly today. I’m thankful to have made it through the bullying and see it all as a learning experience which helped mold me into the woman I am.
My style is … fun, flirty, fearless and feminine. I’m not a rockstar but my wardrobe makes me feel like one!
I feel beautiful every day by … runway walking down the street. Even if I weren’t a model, I would still be practising my runway walk down the streets of New York! I’ve done it all my life and it makes me feel beautiful and strong. If I am in a place where I feel self conscious about “walking” I put on my iPod and somehow it blocks out the stares.
I try to make others feel beautiful by … listening. I love meeting new people and engaging in conversation. You’d be surprised how much we all have in common no matter race, religion or otherwise. Listening and making eye contact makes people feel confident and confidence breeds beauty.
I challenge the beauty ideal by … being the change I want to see in the fashion industry. I am a size 18/20 and fighting for my fashionable life and the lives of other women around the globe who don’t see themselves represented in fashion because they also don’t fit into societal beauty ideals.
My favourite quotation is … Embrace the things that make you unique and make them your superpowers. – Janelle Monet
My favourite song is … I am an old school hip-hop head but I also love gospel music and 90’s R &B. I don’t have a favourite song but Beyonce can do NO wrong!
I hope to bring to the fashion world … fresh eyes. I believe there’s a bit of tunnel vision in the fashion industry and as a result there are lots of cookie cutter images similar to a string of paper dolls. I want curves in fashion to be as integrated as they are in malls, schools and sidewalks around the world.
If I could tell a young girl anything I would say … within you, you have all the tools you need to be successful, smart, and loved. It’s up to you to surround yourself with individuals who will nurture you and bring out your best qualities. It is also up to you to decide who you want to share your quality self with. Know your worth because you are priceless.
I like modelling because … I feel more at home in front of the camera than I do anyplace else. Modelling allows me to live vicariously through the garments I wear while creating different moods and personalities for the looks. It’s also a kick to see clothing at the development stages and see how it translates to production.
In the modelling world I would like to see … the inclusion of women all shapes, sizes and ethnicities in every aspect of the modelling industry and the beauty business. I want to see plus-size fashion be taken seriously and plus-size models incorporated seamlessly throughout all media. I want my curves to be the new black!
My ultimate modelling job would be … a cover and editorial in Italian Vogue because I feel that Italian Vogue has the most progressive images and is creating its own beauty standards. Plus, their Black Issue last year touched me deeply even though I couldn’t understand a word of the text. Every single black model that I ever studied and looked up to (from the age of 12 through the present) was featured in that issue. Appearing in the magazine would bring my journey full circle.
Please visit Mia’s gallery and website to reflect on the wonderful images, projects and energy she created, or leave a comment through facebook or Twitter. Our thoughts, love and positive energy go out to her family and friends at this time. Mia, you will always be our role model.
With love and admiration,
Liis, Ben & the entire Ben Barry Agency